By Robert A. Vella
In the news today, we’ll cover a U.S. missile test that violates a nuclear arms treaty recently abrogated by President Trump and Russian strongman Vladimir Putin, two intriguing stories about China, the latest on climate change, three articles on white supremacy, and two developments in the gun control debate.
I urge readers to pay particular attention to President Trump’s involvement in these stories especially the new polling analysis which supports my editorial published earlier this month explaining how Americans have always rejected overt expressions of racism.
U.S. missile test
The United States has tested a land-launched cruise missile surpassing a limit set by a decades-old deal with Russia since scrapped by President Donald Trump’s administration.
In a press release published Monday, the Pentagon announced that the previous day it “conducted a flight test of a conventionally-configured ground-launched cruise missile at San Nicolas Island, California.” Notably, it stated that the “test missile exited its ground mobile launcher and accurately impacted its target after more than 500 kilometers of flight” or roughly 310 miles, a range once restricted by the 1987 Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty signed by Washington and Moscow.
The small New York-based nonprofit news outlet has spent more than $1.5 million on about 11,000 pro-Trump advertisements in the last six months, according to data from Facebook’s advertising archive — more than any organization outside of the Trump campaign itself, and more than most Democratic presidential candidates have spent on their own campaigns.
Those video ads — in which unidentified spokespeople thumb through a newspaper to praise Trump, peddle conspiracy theories about the “Deep State,” and criticize “fake news” media — strike a familiar tone in the online conservative news ecosystem. The Epoch Times looks like many of the conservative outlets that have gained followings in recent years.
But it isn’t.
Behind the scenes, the media outlet’s ownership and operation is closely tied to Falun Gong, a Chinese spiritual community with the stated goal of taking down China’s government.
Facebook and Twitter said Monday that they had deleted a network of fake accounts used by China to sow political discord over Hong Kong’s pro-democracy, anti-police brutality protests.
The accounts also were used to share pro-Beijing rhetoric in response to the Hong Kong-initiated boycott of The Walt Disney Co.’s upcoming film Mulan, some of the example tweets shared by Twitter reveal.
The Mulan boycott was initiated late last week after the film’s star, Crystal Liu Yifei, posted a message of support on Chinese social media for the Hong Kong police force. The post ignited a firestorm both within Hong Kong and among pro-democracy sympathizers overseas, given the many accusations by international human rights groups that the police have been using excess force in their confrontations with protesters and the public.
America under President Trump might not own Greenland (yet), but decisions made by his administration will help determine the ice-covered island’s long-term fate and ours. U.S. emissions of greenhouse gases, as well as emissions from other countries, have tipped the balance to make Greenland a major contributor to global sea-level rise.
It’s no secret that the Greenland ice sheet is in trouble. This melt season, which is wrapping up, has brought the most significant ice loss, and related sea-level increase, since the record melt year of 2012. Much of the ice melted in a one-week period when the island was in the throes of a heat wave that had moved in from Europe.
According to Ted Scambos, a senior research scientist at the University of Colorado, this year Greenland will add about 1 millimeter to global sea levels through glacial outflow and melt runoff, which translates to about 360 gigatons of water entering the North Atlantic. In addition, the injection of cold freshwater is disrupting ocean circulation, specifically causing a slowdown in the Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation, which could alter weather patterns and fisheries.
TEJEDA, Spain (Reuters) – Around 8,000 people have been evacuated as firefighters battle an out-of-control wildfire on Gran Canaria in Spain’s Canary Islands, authorities said on Monday.
The blaze, which began on Saturday near the town of Tejeda, is advancing on several fronts, propelled by a combination of high temperatures, strong winds and low humidity. So far, the fire is affecting the mountainous central part of the island rather than coastal areas busy with tourists in the summer months.
“The fire remains out of control,” a spokeswoman for emergency services in the region told Reuters. “It is a very serous fire.”
Since their founding in New York City in 2016, the far-right Proud Boys have cultivated a rough and ready image, often declaring: “We don’t start fights. We finish them.”
But on Monday, jurors in State Supreme Court in Manhattan rejected claims by two members of the group, who had said they had been acting in self-defense last fall on the Upper East Side when they took part in the beating of four people described by the police as anti-fascists connected to a loose-knit group called Antifa.
The two defendants, Maxwell Hare and John Kinsman, were convicted on charges of attempted gang assault, attempted assault and riot for their part in a melee after an appearance by the founder of the Proud Boys at the Metropolitan Republican Club on East 83rd Street.
A group of Southern California high school students sparked outrage on Monday after video surfaced of them giving the Nazi salute while a German World War II-era marching song played in the background.
The video shows several male students from Pacifica High School in Garden Grove, California, giving the Adolf Hitler salute and laughing as the song plays. At least one student appeared to sing along with the music.
A Reuters poll released today contains a trove of interesting data on race. Trump has long sought to use racial tension to gain political leverage, but this summer he has become especially explicit about exploiting and exaggerating racial divisions, with a series of racist attacks on four Democratic congresswomen, and then on their colleague Elijah Cummings, as a strategy ahead of the 2020 election.
But the Reuters poll casts doubt on that strategy: “The Reuters analysis also found that Americans were less likely to express feelings of racial anxiety this year, and they were more likely to empathize with African Americans. This was also true for white Americans and whites without a college degree, who largely backed Trump in 2016.”
Among the details, the number of whites who say “America must protect and preserve its White European heritage” has sunk nine points since last August. The percentages of whites, and white Republicans, who strongly agree that “white people are currently under attack in this country” have each dropped by roughly 25 points from the same time two years ago.
WASHINGTON — Days after a pair of deadly mass shootings in Texas and Ohio, President Trump said he was prepared to endorse what he described as “very meaningful background checks” that would be possible because of his “greater influence now over the Senate and over the House.”
But after discussions with gun rights advocates during his two-week working vacation in Bedminster, N.J. — including talks with Wayne LaPierre, the chief executive of the National Rifle Association — Mr. Trump’s resolve appears to have substantially softened, and he has reverted to reiterating the conservative positions on the gun issue he has espoused since the 2016 campaign.
Four years after California became one of the first states to expedite the removal of guns from people seen as a public danger by family members or law enforcement, its “red flag” law appears to be helping to reduce the chance of mass shootings, according to a study released Monday by the UC Davis School of Medicine.
The initial findings by the school’s Violence Prevention Research Program were made public just hours after Gov. Gavin Newsom said Monday that he is interested in receiving a group of pending bills that would significantly expand the use of so-called “extreme risk protection” orders.
At the same time, recent mass shootings in Gilroy, Calif., as well as El Paso and Dayton, Ohio, have renewed the conversation in Congress about possibly adopting national red flag laws.