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The United States and China are in final talks to set up the first face-to-face meeting between Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin and his Beijing counterpart at a security conference next month in Singapore, according to a report published Monday.
The discussions, coming at a time of heightened tensions over the future of Taiwan, involve a sit-down between Austin and Chinese Defense Minister Wei Fenghe on the sidelines of the Shangri-La Dialogue, the Wall Street Journal reported.
Austin has already said he will travel to the conference, which is being held June 10-12. While Wei’s attendance hasn’t been confirmed, the outlet reported that he will participate in person.
The Wall Street Journal noted that the talks are ongoing and plans could change.
Austin and Wei talked on the phone in April about security in Asia and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the first conversation between the pair.
The Chinese defense ministry’s summary of the conversation said Wei warned Austin that Taiwan could have a “disruptive impact” on relations between the countries.
During a trip to Asia earlier this month, President Biden said the US would intervene militarily if China invades Taiwan, a self-ruled island that China believes is part of its territory.
Beijing responded to Biden’s remarks with “strong dissatisfaction and firm opposition.”
Following Biden’s comments in Tokyo, the White House and the president insisted that the US’ policy of “strategic ambiguity” on Taiwan hasn’t changed.
The White House said it still adheres to the “one China” position that recognizes the People’s Republic of China as the sole government of the Asian nation, and acknowledges – but does not accept – that Taiwan is part of China.
The US, under the 1979 Taiwan Relations Act, is not required to defend Taiwan militarily, but it must ensure the island nation has the resources to defend itself.
China’s defense ministry did not respond to a request for comment from the newspaper, and a Pentagon spokesperson said there was no available information about a meeting.
By: Ny Post
LIV Golf receiving pushback in Oregon ahead of first US stop
Saudi Arabia-backed LIV Golf is getting a chilly reception in Oregon, its first stop in the United States.
This coming week, the series, which is paying enormous signing fees for players such as Phil Mickelson and Dustin Johnson, descends on Pumpkin Ridge Golf Club in tiny North Plains, nestled in the rolling hills west of Portland.
But the North Plains mayor, as well as officials from surrounding cities, have written the club’s owner, Escalante Golf, with concerns. Oregon Sen. Ron Wyden is speaking out against the tournament, and some members of the pricy club also are uncomfortable with the situation.
Opponents point to Saudi Arabia’s human rights abuses, including the murder of U.S.-based journalist Jamal Khashoggi. But in Oregon, there also is anger over the hit-and-run death of 15-year-old Fallon Smart in 2016.
Saudi student Abdulrahman Sameer Noorah was facing a trial on first-degree murder charges when he removed a tracking device and vanished. U.S. authorities believe the Saudi government helped arrange for a fake passport and provided a private jet for travel back to Saudi Arabia. The case was featured on “60 Minutes.”
“It’s wrong to be silent when Saudi Arabia tries to cleanse blood-stained hands, in the fight for Oregonians to get justice — Fallon Smart was killed very close to our house in Southeast Portland, and the person charged with the crime, a hit-and-run death, was, based on all the evidence, whisked out of the country by the Saudis before he stood for trial,” Wyden said in an interview with AP.
There is also concern the event could bring protests to North Plains, a town of just 3,400 people. Tickets to the event prohibit fans from displaying any political signs.
“We oppose this event because it is being sponsored by a repressive government whose human rights abuses are documented. We refuse to support these abuses by complicitly allowing the Saudi-backed organization to play in our backyard,” said a letter signed by North Plains Mayor Teri Lenahan and 10 other mayors from surrounding cities.
Wyden accuses the Saudi government of sportswashing.
“It’s just a page out of the autocrats’ playbook covering up injustices by misusing athletics in hopes of normalizing their abuses,” he said.
The event also has put Pumpkin Ridge members in a difficult spot. Some decided to leave the club over the tournament, but it’s unclear how many departed.
“A lot of members are like stuck between a rock and a hard place right now where politically they don’t agree with it at all,” said member Kevin Palmer of Beaverton. “But I also joined last year and put down like $12,000, and if I leave I don’t get any of that money back.”
Greg Norman is CEO of LIV Golf Investments and the face of a circuit that aims to rival the PGA Tour. The 48-man field in Portland will compete for $20 million in prize money for individual play, and $5 million in team play, with 12 teams. Teams will be announced Tuesday after a draft.
Johnson, who had been No. 1 in the world longer than any player since Tiger Woods, and six-time major champion Mickelson were among the first big names to join. The Portland field since has added Bryson DeChambeau, Brooks Koepka and Patrick Reed, all major champions, though none among the current top 20 players in the world ranking.
The PGA Tour has suspended every member who competed in the first LIV event because they did not have conflicting event releases. Those in Portland also will be suspended when they tee it up.
The tour typically awards three such releases a year, only for tournaments overseas. It does not allow its members to compete in tournaments held in North America.
The Portland event is held the same week as the John Deere Classic in Illinois.
“The PGA Tour, an American institution, can’t compete with a foreign monarchy that is spending billions of dollars in attempt to buy the game of golf,” commissioner Jay Monahan said last week. “We welcome good, healthy competition. The LIV Saudi golf league is not that. It’s an irrational threat, one not concerned with the return on investment or true growth of the game.”
The LIV tour consists of eight events this year, five in the United States. Following the stop in Portland, the tour moves to the Trump National Golf Club in Bedminster, N.J.
Texas-based Escalante Golf, owner of Pumpkin Ridge and another course on the LIV series, did not respond to a request for comment.
“We believe that we have a moral obligation to take a stand and speak out against this event in order to protect the people we serve,” the mayors wrote in their letter to the company. “While our local jurisdictions may not be able to prevent this event, we stand together to voice our concerns about the unwelcomed potential risks, visitors and harm this event could have on our communities.”
By: Ny Post
Super PACs target AOC-backed ‘defund the police’ NY candidates
Two political action committees bankrolled by New York business interests are waging a hard-hitting $1 million counteroffensive to defeat “defund the police” state Assembly candidates running in Tuesday’s Democratic primary races.
The related Super PACs — Common Sense New Yorkers and Voters of New York — have sent out mailers attacking the lefty candidates as soft on crime and are engaging in an 11th-hour “get out the vote” effort through robocalls, text messaging and other canvassing, said Jeff Leb, the treasurer of both groups.
“We are specifically running independent campaigns against socialist candidates who have declared publicly and privately that they want to defund the police,” said Leb.
“We have done multiple polls that confirm that across NYC and NYS regardless of the neighborhood or the district, public safety is the number one issue of concern to Democratic voters,” he added.
The candidates targeted by the groups are backed by Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-Bronx/Queens), the left-wing Working Families Party and the local chapter of the Democratic Socialists of America.
Leb said his groups will conduct a similar campaign to bolster pro-safety candidates in state Senate primaries in August.
At least three mailers have targeted insurgent Jonathan Soto — a former AOC staffer endorsed by the socialist congresswoman and the WFP — who is running against veteran Assembly incumbent Michael Benedetto in The Bronx.
“Don’t vote for Jonathan Soto. He’s Too Extreme for the Bronx,” said one mailer, which described the “defund” challenger as a “dangerous, reckless, socialist.”
The PACs have also run attack ads against insurgent Jessica Altagracia Woolford, who is running against veteran Assemblyman Jeffrey Dinowitz in the northwest Bronx Assembly District 81 covering Riverdale, Kingsbridge Heights, Norwood and Woodlawn; and Samy Nemir Olivares, who is seeking to topple incumbent Erik Dilan in Brooklyn’s District 54, covering Bushwick and Cypress Hills.
Benedetto, who is not connected to the independent groups, on Sunday welcomed their campaign.
“They accurately point out that my opponent wants to defund the police. I’m not for that all. I happen to be in the same political camp as Joe Biden,” said Benedetto, who received a donation from the New York State Troopers PAC.
“They realize [Soto] is a radical who is out of step with the mainstream. We don’t want that.”
Soto on Sunday sought to turn the tables, saying Benedetto is backed by “Trump Republicans” who are sending attack mailers “distracting voters from what’s actually being defunded, our schools!”
Mayor Eric Adams has endorsed the more moderate Benedetto, and donated to his campaign in the ongoing proxy war with Ocasio-Cortez over the direction of New York’s Democratic Party.
The Adams-affiliated Striving for a Better New York gave Benedetto $4,700 work in mid-June, state BOE records show.
The AOC-backed Courage to Change PAC, meanwhile, donated $4,700 to Soto and cut four-figure checks to seven other lefty candidates in recent weeks, including challengers running against incumbents Dilan, Kevin Cahill (D-Ulster) and Nikki Lucas (D-Brooklyn) in the state Assembly, records show.
Dilan’s father is former longtime state Brooklyn state Sen. Martin Dilan, who lost a 2018 primary to the DSA-backed Julia Salazar.
The younger Dilan received a $4,700 check of his own from A.J.W. Properties Management and $2,000 from a PAC associated with state realtors, in addition to at least $13,000 more in donations from other labor and trade groups in recent weeks.
As for the two pro-law and order Super PACs, campaign finance records show Voters of New York received four donations from real estate and financial interest in recent weeks totaling $250,000.
Silverstein Properties gave $50,000 while Thomas Tuft, a former chairman of the Global Capital Markets Group at Goldman Sachs chipped in $25,000. Anel Holding Group and Broadwest Group 3 LLC contributed $100,000 and $75,000 respectively, according to campaign finance filings.
More than $100,000 in these donations went to just two entities – Live Media Productions LLC of lower Manhattan and Albany Marketing Solutions just blocks from the state Capitol, according to campaign records.
Both companies also received dozens of payments totaling a similar amount from Common Sense New York in recent days, records show.
Donors to this group include a litany of limited liability companies representing real estate and financial interests. The family-owned United American Land gave $100,000. Venture capitalist Lisa Blau gave $50,000, according to records.
The insurance industry and other trade groups have dumped $6,000 on Cahill, who chairs the Assembly Insurance Committee, as he battles back a challenge from the DSA and WFP-backed Sarahan Shrestha.
Shrestha also got $4,700 from the AOC-backed PAC on June 24, records state.
By: Ny Post
Duke assistant sees NBA starter in Knicks’ pick Trevor Keels
The Knicks traded out of the first round on draft night, but they may have landed a player with the upside of a first-round pick. At least, that’s what Chris Carrawell believes the Knicks have in Trevor Keels.
The one-and-done guard had an up-and-down season with the Blue Devils, averaging 11.5 points and 3.4 rebounds, but the former five-star recruit was still projected by some to find his way into the first round. That didn’t happen, and the Knicks ended up selecting him with the No. 42 overall pick in the draft.
“I think he’s a starter [in the NBA],” Carrawell, the Duke assistant coach, told The Post in a phone interview on Sunday. “It’s harder when you’re a second-round pick, but he’s only 18. If he stays with it, and gets an opportunity and improves, I compare him to Marcus Smart.
“In a year [if he stayed in school] he would’ve been a potential lottery pick and guaranteed first-round pick for sure. Potential is there. … I think the Knicks got a steal.”
Carrawell singled out two needed areas of improvement for the 6-foot-5 Keels to develop into a solid NBA player. One of the youngest players in the draft, the Clinton, Md. native has to improve his perimeter jump shot — Keels shot just 31.2 percent from beyond the arc for Duke this past season — and he has to get into better shape. Keels registered 13.5 percent body fat at the draft combine, the fourth highest of the 76 players there.
“These guys come in, they’re 17, 18 years old, in college for the first time. No matter how much we talk to them about nutrition, things you gotta eat, they’re still college kids,” Carrawell said. “They’re going to still stay up late, they’re going to play video games, they’re going to hang out with their classmates, their teammates. He has the body type that you have to watch what you eat, make sure you’re putting in the work, which he does. But he’s still young. I didn’t pay attention to those things when I was 22. In time, once he learns, he can do it.”
Off the bat, Keels’ best asset is his competitive fire and on-court desire. He was one of Duke’s most intense players and, according to Carrawell, has an extremely high basketball IQ. That manifests itself at both ends of the floor.
Perhaps most important for Keels and the Knicks, Carrawell thinks he’s a Tom Thibodeau type of player, due to his aggressive nature and his desire on the defensive end. Thibodeau, of course, is notorious for relying on veterans, so Keels will have to prove himself to carve out a role for himself. The fastest way for that to happen is on the defensive end.
Carrawell’s take was similar to what an NBA scout told The Post on draft night, that Keels has to improve his body and his jumper, but the toughness and edge he plays with will appeal to Thibodeau.
“I’m going into a foxhole, I want him on my side,” Carrawell said. “’Thibs is going to fall in love with Trevor, because he’s a competitor, he’s a winner.
“He competes, man. Trevor really has the potential to be a really good defender once he learns the NBA game. He can really guard the ball. When he’s locked in, he does a good job of putting pressure on the ball, and he’s not bad off the ball as well.”
By: Ny Post
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