President Biden has vowed to defend Taiwan if it’s attacked by China. He made the remark when questioned during a news conference in Tokyo earlier today.
Nancy Cordes: “You didn’t want to get involved in the Ukraine conflict militarily for obvious reasons. Are you willing to get involved militarily to defend Taiwan if it comes to that?”
President Joe Biden: “Yes.”
Nancy Cordes: “You are?”
President Joe Biden: “That’s the commitment we made. That’s the commitment we made. We are not — look, here’s the situation. We agree with the One China policy. We’ve signed on to it and all the attendant agreements made from there. But the idea that it can be taken by force, just taken by force, is just not appropriate. It will dislocate the entire region and be another action similar to what happened in Ukraine.”
After Biden spoke, White House officials tried to walk back his comments, which mark a shift from a longtime U.S. policy on Taiwan known as “strategic ambiguity.”
During his trip to Asia, Biden also unveiled a new trade initiative with 12 Indo-Pacific countries as part of an effort to counter China’s growing power in the region. On Sunday, hundreds of demonstrators gathered in Tokyo to protest Biden’s visit.
Shunkichi Takayama: “Their actions are extremely dangerous now. Japan and the U.S. are trying to conduct a war of aggression on China.”
While in Japan, Biden is meeting leaders from the other members of the so-called Quad: Australia, India and Japan. Australia will be represented by its new prime minister, Anthony Albanese, who was just sworn in today. Albanese’s center-left Labor Party won the most seats in Saturday’s election, toppling the right-wing, pro-coal Scott Morrison, who had served as Australia’s prime minister since 2018, and ending a decade of conservative rule. Anthony Albanese addressed supporters after the election.
Prime Minister-elect Anthony Albanese: “Together, we can end the climate wars. Together, we can take advantage of the opportunity for Australia to be a renewable energy superpower.”
The Australian election has been described as a “greenslide,” with voters strongly backing candidates pushing for stronger climate action. We will have more on Australia after headlines.
President Biden has signed a $40 billion military and economic aid package for Ukraine after the legislation was passed with little debate in Congress. The massive spending bill was supported by every Democrat in the House and Senate. Over the weekend, The Wall Street Journal revealed the White House is considering deploying special forces inside Ukraine to guard the newly reopened U.S. Embassy in Kyiv.
This comes as Ukrainian officials give conflicting accounts on the state of negotiations with Russia to end the three-month-long war as Russia intensifies its attack in the eastern Donbas region. On Saturday, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky signaled talks could resume soon, saying fighting “will only definitively end through diplomacy.” Meanwhile, one of Zelensky’s top aides has ruled out more talks until Russia leaves Ukraine and gives up all land seized. In other news on the war, a Russian soldier has been sentenced to life in prison in Ukraine in the first war crimes trial since the invasion. Meanwhile, Russia has cut off gas exports to Finland days after Finland and Sweden formally requested NATO membership.
A U.S. military plane carrying nearly 80,000 pounds of baby formula flew from Germany to Indianapolis Sunday as part of an effort to ease the critical shortage in the United States. Meanwhile, Congressmember Ilhan Omar and two dozen other House Democrats have urged the Federal Trade Commission to investigate the baby formula industry, which is controlled by Abbott Laboratories and a few other companies. The shortage is linked in part due to Abbott’s closing of a plant in Michigan in February due to contamination concerns first exposed by a whistleblower.
A federal judge in Louisiana has blocked the Biden administration from lifting Title 42, a Trump-era policy which allows the U.S. to expel recently arrived migrants without due process. Biden had vowed to end Title 42 by today, May 23. But the judge — who was appointed by Donald Trump — said Title 42 must remain in place until a lawsuit filed by two dozen states is resolved. The public health order has been used to block over 2 million people arriving at the U.S.-Mexico border from seeking asylum — a violation of international law.
Leaders of the United States’ largest Protestant congregation ignored or covered up nearly two decades of sexual abuse allegations against clergy while seeking to protect their own reputations. That’s the finding of an independent investigation into the Southern Baptist Convention made public on Sunday. The report found Southern Baptist leaders had a list of hundreds of ministers accused of abuse, but took no action. It also found survivors and others who reported sexual assault or harassment were “ignored, disbelieved, or met with the constant refrain that the Southern Baptist Convention could take no action … even if it meant that convicted molesters continued in ministry with no notice or warning to their current church or congregation.”
The World Health Organization held an emergency meeting Friday to discuss the recent outbreak of monkeypox outside of areas where the virus is endemic. The WHO has documented 120 confirmed or suspected cases, mostly in Europe. The first confirmed case in the United States was reported in Boston. Monkeypox is usually spread between people after close, skin-on-skin contact, making it far less contagious than the coronavirus. Scientists say the fatality rate for the form of the monkeypox virus being found in Europe is less than 1%.
In Afghanistan, the Taliban has ordered all female TV anchors to cover their faces. Some female journalists have publicly criticized the decree but have agreed to follow the new rules in order to stay on the air. This is Sonia Niazi of TOLOnews.
Sonia Niazi: “This decree is unpredictable for all female presenters, because Islam has not commanded us to cover our faces, and neither are we given such information in Islam, and every Islamic scholar and political figure has opposed this decree.”
In Iran, a colonel in the elite Quds Force of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps was shot dead in Tehran while he sat in his car outside his home. No one has claimed responsibility. Iran has blamed Israel for several past assassinations. Iran’s President Ebrahim Raisi has vowed to take revenge.
France’s former ambassador to Haiti has admitted France and the United States effectively orchestrated the 2004 coup that overthrew Haitian President Jean-Bertrand Aristide, Haiti’s first democratically elected president. The former ambassador, Thierry Burkhard, told The New York Times that one benefit of the coup was that it ended Aristide’s campaign demanding that France pay financial reparations to Haiti. Over the weekend, The New York Times published a special section headlined “The Ransom,” looking at how France devastated Haiti’s economy in the 19th century by forcing Haiti to pay reparations for generations to former French slaveholders after a slave rebellion led to the 1804 Haitian Revolution.
A judge in Argentina has ruled the state was responsible for the massacre of more than 400 Indigenous people a century ago, calling it a “crime against humanity.” In 1924, Argentine police and settlers opened fire on Qom and Moqoit Indigenous communities as they protested dreadful working and living conditions on cotton plantations — conditions the workers said amounted to slavery. The ruling does not offer victims’ relatives and descendants financial compensation; instead, it will require schools in Argentina to teach the history of the massacre and will fund efforts to find victims’ remains.
In Pennsylvania, progressive Democrat Summer Lee has been declared the winner of last Tuesday’s primary for a House seat representing parts of Pittsburgh. She is poised to become the first Black woman to represent Pennsylvania in Congress. Her election is seen as a major defeat for AIPAC, the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, which spent more than $2 million on the race as part of a broader effort targeting progressive Democratic candidates. AIPAC’s super PAC has also spent over $1.2 million in Texas to help Democratic Congressmember Henry Cuellar, who faces a runoff Tuesday against the progressive Jessica Cisneros. Bernie Sanders has criticized AIPAC’s spending. He told The New York Times, “This is a war for the future of the Democratic Party.”
Newly released emails show Ginni Thomas, the wife of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, personally urged two Arizona state lawmakers to back efforts to overturn Joe Biden’s 2020 election victory. Thomas urged the Republican lawmakers to choose a “clean slate of Electors” in order to fight back against what she claimed was election fraud. This comes as Justice Thomas is facing increasing pressure to recuse himself from cases related to the 2020 election and the January 6 insurrection, in part because his wife took part in the January 6 “Stop the Steal” rally in Washington.
The conservative archbishop of the Catholic Church in San Francisco has barred House Speaker Nancy Pelosi from receiving Communion until she “publicly repudiates” her support for abortion. Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone said Pelosi must first confess and receive absolution to what he called a “grave sin.”
In California, the United Steelworkers union has filed charges against Chevron with the National Labor Relations Board, alleging the oil giant illegally surveilled and coerced employees at Chevron’s Richmond refinery while refusing to bargain in good faith with workers who’ve been on strike since March 21. This comes after Chevron reported it made $6.3 billion in profit during the first quarter of the year.
On Saturday, about 150 people rallied outside Chevron’s San Francisco Bay Area refinery. Joining them was human rights and environmental lawyer Steven Donziger, who was released from nearly 1,000 days of house arrest last month as part of a years-long legal ordeal that began after he successfully sued Chevron on behalf of Ecuadorian Amazonian Indigenous communities.
Steven Donziger: “You can’t tell me, with these record-breaking profits that we see right now with Chevron and the whole fossil fuel sector, they can’t pay a fair wage to the workers who are responsible for keeping this industrial site as safe as possible. It’s all connected, isn’t it? You know, screwing over the Indigenous people of Ecuador, screwing over their own workers, and doing things in this community that are extremely disrespectful to every citizen.”