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US newsrooms to Trump: We’re not enemies of the people

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Donald Trump

New York | The nation’s newsrooms are pushing back against President Donald Trump with a coordinated series of newspaper editorials condemning his attacks on “fake news” and suggestion that journalists are the enemy.

The Boston Globe invited newspapers across the country to stand up for the press with editorials today, and several began appearing online a day earlier. Nearly 350 news organisations have pledged to participate, according to Marjorie Pritchard, op-ed editor at the Globe.

In St Louis, the Post-Dispatch called journalists “the truest of patriots .” The Chicago Sun-Times said it believed most Americans know that Trump is talking nonsense.

The Fayetteville, NC Observer said it hoped Trump would stop, “but we’re not holding our breath .” “Rather, we hope all the president’s supporters will recognize what he’s doing – manipulating reality to get what he wants,” the North Carolina newspaper said.

Some newspapers used history lessons to state their case. The Elizabethtown Advocate in Elizabethtown, Penn., for instance, compared free press in the United States to such rights promised but not delivered in the former Soviet Union. The New York Times added a pitch.

“If you haven’t already, please subscribe to your local papers,” said the Times, whose opinion section also summarised other editorials across the country.

“Praise them when you think they’ve done a good job and criticize them when you think they could do better. We’re all in this together.” That last sentiment made some journalists skittish.

The Wall Street Journal, which said it was not participating, noted in a column by James Freeman that the Globe’s effort ran counter to the independence that editorial boards claim to seek. Freeman wrote that Trump has the right to free speech as much as his media adversaries.

“While we agree that labelling journalists the ‘enemy of the American people’ and journalism ‘fake news’ is not only damaging to our industry but destructive to our democracy, a coordinated response from independent dare we say ‘mainstream’ news organisations feeds a narrative that we’re somehow aligned against this Republican president,” the Baltimore Sun wrote.

Still, the Sun supported the effort and also noted the deaths of five Capital Gazette staff members at the hands of a gunman in nearby Annapolis, Maryland.

The Radio Television Digital News Association, which represents more than 1,200 broadcasters and websites, is also asking its members to point out that journalists are friends and neighbours doing important work holding government accountable.

“I want to make sure that it is positive,” said Dan Shelley, the group’s executive director. “We’re shooting ourselves in the foot if we make this about attacking the president or attacking his supporters.”

It remains unclear how much sway the effort will have. Newspaper editorial boards overwhelmingly opposed Trump’s election in 2016.

Polls show Republicans have grown more negative toward the news media in recent years: Pew Research Center said 85 per cent of Republicans and Republican-leaning independents said in June 2017 that the news media has a negative effect on the country, up from 68 per cent in 2010. Still, newsrooms are trying to convince them otherwise. “We are not the enemy,” declared the Mercury News in San Jose, California.

International

China blasts US ‘bullying’ with Huawei CFO extradition bid

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US; China

Beijing | China on Wednesday accused the United States of “bullying behaviour” after US authorities confirmed plans to seek the extradition of a top Chinese telecom executive detained in Canada.

The United States faces a January 30 deadline to file an extradition request for Huawei chief financial officer Meng Wanzhou, whose arrest last month sparked diplomatic tensions.

“We will continue to pursue the extradition of defendant Ms Meng Wanzhou, and will meet all deadlines set by the US/Canada Extradition Treaty,” said US Justice Department spokesman Marc Raimondi on Tuesday.

Meng, the daughter of Huawei’s founder, was arrested at Vancouver airport on December 1 at the request of the United States, which says she violated American sanctions on Iran.

She has since been freed on Can 10 million (US 7.5 million) bail and is awaiting a hearing on her extradition.

According to the agreement between the two countries, the United States has 60 days after an arrest made at its request in Canada to formalise an extradition request.

Once a request has been submitted, the Canadian justice ministry has 30 days to begin official extradition proceedings, though the process can take months or years.

China, which has defended both Huawei and Meng since the CFO’s arrest, criticised the US extradition request as without “legitimate reason” and “not in conformity with international law”.

“This is a type of technological bullying behaviour and everyone can clearly see the real purpose,” said Chinese foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying at a regular press briefing.

The US “will stop at nothing to suppress Chinese high-tech enterprises and restrain China’s legitimate development rights”, she added.

Meng’s arrest has sparked an escalating diplomatic crisis between Ottawa and Beijing.

Two Canadians have since been detained in China on national security grounds, in what is thought to be retaliation for the arrest.

A Chinese court also this month sentenced a Canadian man to death for drug trafficking following a retrial, a drastic increase of his previous 15-year prison sentence.

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Indian couple who fell to their deaths from cliff in US were intoxicated: Autopsy report

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New York | An Indian couple, who fell to their deaths in October reportedly while taking a selfie at a steep cliff in California’s Yosemite National Park, were intoxicated at the time of the tragic fall, according to an autopsy report.

Vishnu Viswanath, 29, and his wife, Meenakshi Moorthy, 30, were “intoxicated with ethyl alcohol” prior to falling 800 feet from Taft Point on October 25, but no drugs were present in their bodies, according to the autopsy report. Ethyl alcohol is found in alcoholic beverages such as beer, wine and hard liquor.

Due to the condition of the bodies after the extreme fall, investigators were unable to accurately discern a specific level of intoxication, Andrea Stewart, assistant Mariposa County coroner said.

“All we can conclude is that they had been drinking and that they had alcohol in their systems. We don’t know how much,” Stewart was quoted as saying by Mercury News.

The couple from Kerala died “of multiple injuries to the head, neck, chest and abdomen, sustained by a fall from a mountain”, the report said.

The couple had been married since 2014. Both graduated in 2010 from the College of Engineering, Chengannur, in Kerala. Viswanath was a software engineer with Cisco India at the company’s headquarters in Silicon Valley.

Moorthy and Viswanath who showcased their adventure-seeking travels on Instagram had set up a tripod at Taft Point before they fell 800 feet down the side of a steep cliff.

The tripod was later discovered on the edge of the overlook. Viswanath’s brother, Jishnu Viswanath said it appeared the couple died trying to take a photo.

Viswanath and his wife Moorthy, travelled the world documenting their trips to locales like the Grand Canyon, Paris, New York City, Niagara Falls, London, Big Sur and other scenic destinations.

Just months before her tragic death, Moorthy had warned in an Instagram post the dangers of taking photographs on the edge of cliffs and atop skyscrapers.

She posted a picture of herself at the Grand Canyon, saying in the caption that A lot of us including yours truly is a fan of daredevilry attempts of standing at the edge of cliffs. But did you know that wind gusts can be fatal? Is our life worth one photo?

In an eerie coincidence, Moorthy appears in the selfie of another tourist couple at Taft Point, just minutes before she plummeted to her death.

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International

US lawmakers reintroduce legislation enforcing fair trade with China

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US; China

Washington | Two US lawmakers — one each from the Republican and the Democratic party — on Wednesday reintroduced a legislation in the House of Representatives to safeguard American assets from Chinese influence and possession, as well as protect American businesses from China’s tools of economic aggression.

Reintroduced by Congressman Tim Ryan and Mike Conaway, the Fair Trade with China Enforcement Act is the companion legislation to a similar legislation introduced by Senators Mark Warner and Marco Rubio in the Senate.

“Our imbalanced trade relationship with China poses profound national and economic security risks to the United States. The bipartisan Fair Trade with China Enforcement Act would help correct our trade imbalances with China and give American workers a level playing field to compete and succeed,” said Ryan.

This legislation would further strengthen the American position by safeguarding our assets from Chinese influence and possession, and blunting China’s tools of economic aggression, he added.

“While the United States is operating on a 24-hour news cycle, China has a long-term plan reaching 50 to 100 years. We need to get ahead of the game and strengthen our economy, and this legislation will put us on that path forward,” Ryan said.

Conaway said Beijing’s ‘Made in China 2025’ initiative has made it clear that the Chinese government’s objective is to drive American companies out of business and move their technology and jobs to China at any cost, including the use of illegal trade practices.

This legislation takes the important step of barring the sale of national security sensitive US intellectual property and technology to China, as well as ensuring that China is paying its fair share in taxes, the lawmaker said.

“This bill also keeps the focus on the national security threats posed by Huawei and ZTE , as China frequently uses commercial technology as a vessel to spy on the US government. Allowing them access to our networks would be an enormous security risk and a massive mistake,” Conaway said.

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