Tag Archives: tension

‘Strong deterrent signal’ US Air force sends dozens of F-22s to Pacific amid China tension

The stealth fighters, which arrived in Guam on Sunday, will take part in a military exercise near the Tinian islands for Operation Pacific Iron 2021. Pacific Air Forces in Hawaii confirmed approximately 25 F-22 Raptors from the Hawaii Air National Guard and from Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska, have been deployed.

General Ken Wilsbach, Pacific Air Forces commander, told CNN the deployment of F-22s will be the US’s largest joint deployment.

He said: “We have never had this many Raptors deployed together in the Pacific Air Forces area of operations.”

Operation Pacific Iron 2021 will focus on deploying, operating, manoeuvring, sustaining and generating forces from smaller and dispersed bases.

The operation is meant to project forces into the US Indo-Pacific Command area of responsibility showing the US to be “a more lethal, adaptive, resilient force”.

Images of the F-22s arriving at Andersen Air Base in Guam were shared on the Defence Visual Information Distribution Service (DVIDS).

According to a statement from Pacific Air Forces, other aircraft from Idaho and Japan will join the F-22s for what the Air Force calls an Agile Combat Employment operation.

The Agile Combat Employment operation will distribute the combat aircraft to other airfields across the region to increase survivability from enemy missile strikes.

Carl Schuster, a Hawaii-based defence analyst and a former director of operations at the US Pacific Command’s Joint Intelligence Center, said the deployment of the Stealth fighters is sending a strong signal to China.

READ MORE: China threatens US with retaliation as Beijing officials ‘set off’

Experts fear that a strike on those bases could seriously endanger an American attempt to retaliate to enemy threats.

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This post originally posted here Daily Express :: World Feed

Fascination grows over the lack of “Eyes of Texas” after gunman disrupts

Tension grows over Eyes of Texas

AUSTIN (Texas Tribune) — Dozens of students at the University of Texas at Austin who give campus tours to prospective Longhorns are refusing to work this week over a dispute about a plaque with “The Eyes of Texas” lyrics hanging in the Admissions Welcome Center.

The dustup over the plaque is the latest example of UT-Austin officials standing by “The Eyes” over pleas that the university distance itself from the alma mater song because it originated at a minstrel show where students likely wore Blackface.

It’s also the latest in a series of clashes over the song in a nearly yearlong controversy that has frequently pit administrators and alumni against students and divided members of the Longhorn community.

Just this week, a threatening incident was reported to UT-Austin police where a student-led online event about “The Eyes of Texas” was crashed by an unknown man on camera wearing a bandana over his mouth and nose and who appeared to be loading a large gun.

UT-Austin officials did not respond to a request for comment about the incidents, nor did they respond to written questions.

Students say protests over the song are not going away. Kendall Walker, a UT-Austin senior who is part of the student strike in the admissions office, said she thinks administrators wrongly assumed the issue would die down after the school formed a committee this past year to study the song’s origins. UT-Austin President Jay Hartzell has repeatedly affirmed that the university will keep the song.

“I think this is the tip of the iceberg honestly,” Walker said. “This is the beginning of it and people resisting that decision and not accepting a committee of people deem[ing] the song isn’t racist. There’s a whole generation of students and minority students that are equally and more mad than we are and don’t want to enter a space that predetermined their opinions don’t matter.”

Members of the Texas Tour Guides said the song has created a divisive environment on campus and wanted the plaque to be removed to ensure all student employees and prospective students feel comfortable in the Welcome Center, according to more than six students who work or volunteer as tour guides and spoke to The Texas Tribune.

The guides sent a letter to the university on April 19, asking for a plan detailing for the plaque’s removal by May 1 — otherwise, they said they would stop giving tours virtually or in person.

Tour guides said they suggested replacing the plaque with something symbolizing another university tradition that is more inclusive.

The admissions office would not commit to removing the plaque and told students via email on April 29 that they did not have to work as a tour guide if they had concerns.

“We understand you may no longer desire to serve in this role based on your feelings about the University’s long-standing school song. If you no longer wish to serve as a Texas Tour Guide, please inform your supervisor so that your request can be processed,” wrote Miguel Wasielewski, director of admissions. Wasielewski did not respond to a request for comment.

The request to remove the plaque from the Welcome Center came months after admissions renamed the tour guide group. Previously called “the Guides of Texas,” intended to sound similar to “The Eyes of Texas,” the admissions office decided to separate itself from the name last July, according to an email sent to students by the admissions office and obtained by the Tribune.

“We feel that in order to have an inclusive space where everyone feels safe and welcomed that a name change is necessary,” wrote Noemi Gomez, student program coordinator in the university’s admissions office.

The tour guides estimated that the strike includes roughly 55 students, about half of all the guides.

Student tour guides compared the university’s action over the plaque to its recent announcement that members of the Longhorn marching band are required to play “The Eyes of Texas.” The university said if they opted against playing the school song they can join a separate, newly created band where it won’t be required.

Walker, who is Black, said she is often asked on tours by Black families about her experience on campus.

“I [used to] stand up there and say, ‘I feel welcomed. I feel heard’ … The way that I feel has completely flipped in the past 12 months,” she said. “We bring in students into this university and showcase this university in a way other students cannot. They reap so many benefits of having our presence there but can’t honor something that makes us overtly uncomfortable. It’s just super hurtful.”

Multiple students who spoke to the Tribune said they’ve had uncomfortable conversations with prospective parents and students about the controversy over the past year, yet they have not received any guidance for how to deal with questions about the song while giving tours. In some instances, students said questioning has gotten aggressive.

“It definitely has been an added, like, burden on my mental health to go get dressed and put on my tour guide Polo and go out and talk to families that are oftentimes like predominantly white, about like things like racial justice here on campus,” said Jeremiah Baldwin, a tour guide and sophomore at UT-Austin. “I’m always like having this game of mental gymnastics that I’m playing, like, ‘how should I describe this?’ Or, ‘should I be as open and honest?’”

“A targeted incident”

In another sign of escalating tensions, a student group recently reported an online threat related to the dispute over the song.

Last week, the Texas Orange Jackets hosted an online Zoom conversation with professor Alberto Martinez about his report on the song, which identified links to Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee. According to students on the call and Martinez, as he was presenting, an unaffiliated person with a gun joined the call but was removed by moderators.

A screenshot of the Zoom call shared with the Tribune shows the man wearing a black beanie and a face covering over his mouth and nose while holding what appears to be a large black gun.

“The fact that a conversation about changing a song inspired someone to bring a gun to a Zoom call is just ridiculous,” said Irene Ameena, a senior leader in the Texas Orange Jackets. “And shows that this isn’t just some small debate. This is something that’s violent, like it is violent to bring a gun and show it to people.”

The student group reported the incident to university officials and the professor reported it to the UT Police Department.

“Given the sensitive nature of the matter discussed on this call, we believe this was a targeted incident,” Texas Orange Jackets wrote in a statement on the Facebook page for the event. “We unequivocally condemn the racism and violence that have been brought up in conversations about this song and again call on the university to remove the “Eyes of Texas” as the official school song of the university.”

“A rebuke of their spinelessness”

Walker said she knew students who didn’t sing “The Eyes” even before student athletes brought attention to the matter by demanding the school do away with the tradition last summer in the wake of the death of George Floyd at the hands of police. That demand was faced with swift opposition from alumni and heavy weight donors who clamored for the school to keep the song and threatened to pull donations if it went away. While a university commissioned report found in March that the song “had no racist intent,” it has done little to diminish the controversy.

Recently, a petition calling on UT-Austin leaders to remove the song has circulated, with nearly 180 faculty as of Tuesday morning threatening not to attend graduations and university events unless it’s confirmed the song won’t be played. A previous petition calling for the song’s removal had garnered close to 100 faculty signatures.

UT-Austin history Professor Jorge Canizares-Esguerra said the new petition was created after Martinez released his report that challenged the university’s narrative about the song’s history. Overall, he said professors felt as if the administration had handled the issue without properly involving faculty and students.

“It is a rebuke of the administration,” Canizares-Esguerra said. “It’s a rebuke of their spinelessness before donors and alumni and powerful capital.”

Members of the Texas Black Legislative Caucus and state NAACP chapters have also condemned the song. After UT-Austin released its report in early March, Black student leaders submitted a new list of demands for more scholarships, affordable student housing and increased wages for student workers to improve the experience of Black students on campus.

Brianna McBride, a senior at UT-Austin and co-director of the Black President’s Leadership Council, said UT-Austin officials, including Hartzell, have been receptive to their requests and are continuing to work with student leaders to better communicate initiatives and plans with students.

As the academic year reaches an end, Canizares-Esguerra said he worried how the song and the ongoing controversy will affect the broader university if it continues

“It is not sustainable because it promotes division,” he said. “It’s unsustainable as a policy because it shows the world that the university is divided.”

This article originally appeared in The Texas Tribune at www.texastribune.org. The Texas Tribune is a nonprofit, nonpartisan media organization that informs Texans – and engages with them – about public policy, politics, government and statewide issues.

Author: Kate McGee, Texas Tribune
This post originally appeared on KXAN Austin

China vs Australia: Canberra prepares for war with £400m defence upgrade as tension mounts

This post originally appeared on Daily Express :: World Feed

And also said his country would be teaming up with the United States in expanded war games aimed at ensuring both nations were battle-ready. In an announcement that comes amid an increasingly bitter diplomatic and trade spat with , Mr Morrison said must expand its military assets in the Northern Territory to be able to respond to unspecified tensions in the Asia-Pacific region.

A total of A$ 747million (£418million) is being invested, he announced.

Mr Morrison told reporters: “Our objective is a free and open Indo-Pacific, to ensure a peaceful region, one that, at the same time, Australia is in a position to always protect its interests.”

He avoided naming China – but Australia’s prioritising of the Indo-Pacific comes against a backdrop of increasing competition between the two in the region in recent years.

Relations deteriorated sharply last year, after Canberra demanded an international inquiry into the origins of the coronavirus, triggering trade reprisals by Beijing.

Mr Morrison said an airstrip in the Northern Territory will be lengthened to support larger aircraft, firing ranges overhauled and new training facilities developed for both Australia’s own defence personnel and US marines.

The military upgrades will get underway this year and are scheduled to be completed by 2026.

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The funds come from an Australian defence plan which will see Canberra spend $ 270 billion in the next decade to improve Canberra’s long-range strike capabilities, with the country increasing defence spending by 40 percent over the course of the next decade.

Speaking last year, Mr Morrison said the extra funding was needed as the Asia-Pacific region was experiencing the greatest level of economic and strategic uncertainty since World War II – again, without singling out China.

Australia’s assertive approach has gone down well in Washington, and Morrison said the new facilities will enhance joint military drills with the US

More than 2,000 US Marines have already travelled to northern Australia to take part in annual joint training activities.

Australia and the United States also hold war games twice a year, with the next due to begin in August.

In the past, more than 30,000 troops have taken part in the drills, which happen off Australia’s east coast.

Michael Goldman, Charge d’Affaires at the US embassy in Canberra, said: “The United States and Australia have been deeply engaged in defence cooperation for over half a century.

“We will continue to look for additional ways to partner with Australia, as our ally, to advance the security and prosperity of Americans, Australians, and the peoples of the Indo-Pacific region.”

The announcement comes hard on the heels of a claim by Mike Pezzullo, Australia’s Home Affairs Department Secretary, that liberal democracies must brace themselves for war.

Mr Pezzulo did not offer a specific reason for his remark, but tensions with China, particularly centred on Taiwan, are almost certainly a factor.

Speaking on Sunday, Australian Defence Minister Peter Dutton also said a conflict between China and Taiwan “should not be discounted”.

Last week the Australian Government used new powers to block up two deals struck between the state of Victoria and Beijing in accordance with the Belt and Road outward investment initiative.

The move prompted an angry reaction from the Chinese embassy in Australia, which branded the move “provocative”

In a statement, it claimed the decision was “bound to bring further damage to bilateral relations, and will only end up hurting itself.”

It added: “It further shows that the Australian government has no sincerity in improving China-Australia relations.”

Mercedes must learn from Lewis Hamilton tension and avoid Verstappen and Russell decision

“Someone asked me what I thought the driver market would look like next year,” Brown said.

“I believe George is out of contract and has a Mercedes relationship and did a great job in Bahrain last year.

“And Max, I have never seen his contract but understand there is a possibility for him to drive elsewhere.

“Mercedes and Toto are able to attract an awesome line up, so if those two were available and floating around, depending on what Toto does with his current line up, you can see that happening.”

However, that could be a disastrous move as both of the young drivers are willing to do anything to win.