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The US Relationship With China Faces A Test As Taiwan Elects A New Leader

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Washington — Washington’s relationship with Beijing will face its most serious test since the two presidents met in November, as the U.S. seeks to keep the Taiwan Straits calm when Taiwanese voters pick a new president this weekend.

The peace and stability of the 110-mile-wide (177-kilometer-wide) waterway connecting China’s mainland to the self-governing island are at stake. Any armed war might pit Washington against China, disrupting the global economy.

China thinks the front-runner’s victory in Saturday’s election will be a step toward independence and has warned Taiwanese voters that they may have to choose between peace and war.

According to officials and analysts, regardless of who wins the presidential election, Washington is willing to collaborate with both Taipei and Beijing to avoid miscalculations and escalation of tensions.

A senior White House official stated that the United States will maintain open lines of communication with China and close touch with Taiwan to “reinforce both our support for Taiwan’s democratic processes and also our strong commitment to peace, stability, and the status quo.” The official talked with reporters on Thursday under the condition of anonymity to outline the plans.

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The US Relationship With China Faces A Test As Taiwan Elects A New Leader

President Joe Biden intends to send an unofficial group of former senior officials to the island soon after the election. The United States has no diplomatic relations with Taiwan, and sending an official delegation would irritate Beijing, which considers the island Chinese territory.

Anticipating a “period of higher tensions,” the person stated that the U.S. is preparing for several replies from Beijing based on the election results, which may range from no response to military action.

On Saturday, the island’s 23 million inhabitants will elect a new president to succeed Tsai Ing-wen, who has served two terms. The election has received a lot of attention since Beijing is opposed to front-runner Lai Ching-te, the candidate from the ruling Democratic Progressive Party, which is known for its pro-independence stances. This has generated concerns that a Lai victory may prompt a military response from the mainland.

Beijing has sworn to unify Taiwan, even if it means using force. Any military action may involve the United States, which supports Taiwan with military hardware and technology under a security treaty.

While not taking sides on Taiwan’s sovereignty, Washington opposes any unilateral alteration in the status quo by either side. It has not indicated an official preference for any candidate.

When Biden met with Chinese President Xi Jinping in California in November, he emphasized the significance of peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait. Xi urged Biden to support China’s peaceful reunification with the island, telling him that “the Taiwan question remains the most important and sensitive issue in China-US relations.”

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The US Relationship With China Faces A Test As Taiwan Elects A New Leader

Politicians and observers say that no matter who wins Saturday’s election, Washington will work with the new Taiwanese government to enhance ties and stop Beijing’s military aggression.

“The United States will exchange notes with Taiwan to maintain stability and ensure Taiwan’s future resilience,” said Bonnie Glaser, managing director of the German Marshall Fund’s Indo-Pacific program.

“Regardless of who wins, the American people will stand with the people of Taiwan and the vibrant, beautiful democracy of Taiwan,” Illinois Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi said Wednesday during a Politico conversation. “And that’s on a bipartisan basis.” He is the top Democrat on a House select committee looking into strategic competition between the United States and the Chinese Communist Party.

Republican Representative Andy Barr of Kentucky stated during the same conversation that the United States and all of Taiwan’s major parties believe in deterrence. “We will work with whoever wins this election to reestablish and strengthen that deterrence,” he said.

The overwhelming support among Taiwanese for retaining the status quo indicates that U.S. policy will remain the same regardless of who wins the election, according to Scott Kennedy, senior adviser and trustee chair in Chinese business and economics at the Center for Strategic and International Studies.

“No one wants to provoke a war, and the current situation is minimally acceptable to almost everyone, whether in Taiwan, mainland China, or the United States,” he said.

According to Rorry Daniels, managing director of the Asia Society Policy Institute in New York, all of Taiwan’s presidential hopefuls now view a strong connection with the United States as a powerful deterrent to Beijing’s violent takeover of the island.

According to Daniels of the Asia Society Policy Institute, the challenge for Taipei and Washington would be handling Beijing’s fear that Taiwan would be “creeping into independence,” according to Daniels of the Asia Society Policy Institute.

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The US Relationship With China Faces A Test As Taiwan Elects A New Leader

Lai is closely followed by the opposing Kuomintang party’s nominee, Hou Yu-ih. Beijing is accused of conducting an influence operation in support of Hou, whose party considers Taiwan to be part of China, albeit not necessarily under Beijing’s control. However, many believe a Kuomintang victory would stay the same U.S. policy because popular opinion on the island overwhelmingly supports the present quo.

If Hou is elected, Washington, which has a history of working with the Kuomintang, will be prepared to engage with him to continue strengthening US-Taiwan relations, and any easing in cross-strait tensions that results from his election could allow the U.S. to focus on other issues, according to Brian Hart, a fellow of the China Power Project at the Center for Strategic and International Studies.

A warming cross-strait relationship could complicate US-China relations. “There will be more to coordinate,” Daniels explained. But, as Beijing is likely to put pressure on a Kuomintang government to proceed toward reunification, she said that Washington may assist Hou in managing that pressure.

If elected, the third candidate, Ko Wen-je of the newly formed Taiwan People’s Party, might pose Washington’s most serious challenge. His party has yet to be tested and establish a relationship with Washington, but experts note that Ko has expressed an interest in collaborating with the United States.

“The Biden administration has gone out of its way to have no preference,” he remarked. “There is an opportunity regardless of who wins. The United States is truly not attempting to weigh in on this.”

“From the U.S. perspective, what we want Taiwan to do at a higher degree is to invest in its defense, to deter China’s aggression,” he said.

SOURCE – (AP)

Kiara Grace is a staff writer at VORNews, a reputable online publication. Her writing focuses on technology trends, particularly in the realm of consumer electronics and software. With a keen eye for detail and a knack for breaking down complex topics, Kiara delivers insightful analyses that resonate with tech enthusiasts and casual readers alike. Her articles strike a balance between in-depth coverage and accessibility, making them a go-to resource for anyone seeking to stay informed about the latest innovations shaping our digital world.

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After Reshaping Las Vegas, The Mirage To Be Reinvented As Part Of A Massive Hard Rock Makeover

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The Mirage | AP News Image

LAS VEGAS — The Mirage will disappear from the Las Vegas Strip.

The famed tropical island-themed hotel-casino opened in 1989 with a fire-spewing volcano outside and Siegfried & Roy’s lions and dolphins within, will close its doors on Wednesday.

Frenzied final days have seen standing-room crowds wagering to win $1.6 million in slot machine progressive jackpot winnings that state regulations need to be distributed before the lights go off and the site is transformed completely.

The guest rooms are already unoccupied. The Beatles-themed Cirque du Soleil show “Love” ended its 18-year run earlier this month. When the gamblers go, only memories of former casino mogul Steve Wynn’s hotel, which revolutionized the casino resort sector, will remain.

After Reshaping Las Vegas, The Mirage To Be Reinvented As Part Of A Massive Hard Rock Makeover

“Las Vegas always reinvents itself,” said Michael Green, a history professor at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, whose father dealt blackjack for decades at casinos such as the now-demolished Stardust and Showboat. “The Mirage is no longer state-of-the-art.”

New Operators Hard Rock International and Florida-based Seminole Gaming intend to add 600 rooms to 3,044 in a bright new guitar-shaped hotel where the sidewalk volcano rumbles and gushes nightly. Renderings show guitar string-like beams rising from a purple 660-foot (201-meter) tower into the night sky.

“The Mirage was a transcendent property, changing the landscape of Las Vegas,” said Joe Lupo, The Mirage’s president, who will remain at the new resort. “We are confident that Hard Rock Las Vegas will do the same in 2027.”

There won’t be a demolition show like the now-demolished Tropicana casino hotel several blocks down the Strip. That 22-story building will be demolished later this year and replaced before 2028 by a baseball stadium that will serve as the home field for the relocated MLB Oakland A’s.

Some of the 127 employees who have worked at The Mirage since its inception planned to mark its end with Lupo; Jim Allen, chairman of Hard Rock International and CEO of Seminole Gaming; and Alan Feldman, a longtime MGM Resorts casino executive who is now a fellow at the gambling institute at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. Feldman was Wynn’s initial spokesperson for the new resort.

“The doors opened to a crush of humanity, and it stayed like that for days,” Feldman recalled in an interview. “It’s difficult to describe how The Mirage transformed. One of the things was that Las Vegas expanded beyond Elvis, showgirls, round beds, and gambling.

It was more than just a gambling hall; it cost $630 million. It was the world’s biggest hotel at the time. Guests were greeted with a piña colada smell and two bronze mermaid statues on their way to the check-in desk, which featured a large shark and reef fish tank.

It boasted glamorous boutiques, celebrity-chef restaurants, and theater-sized showrooms featuring performers such as Johnny Mathis, Kenny Rogers, and Dolly Parton.

“Instead of neon, a garden of dozens of rich Canary Island palm trees and a cool refreshing waterfall,” Wynn said in a statement posted on Monday by his Las Vegas attorney, Donald Campbell. Wynn entitled it “An Homage to Lady Mirage.”

Despite competition from casinos in Atlantic City, New Jersey, and the expansion of tribal gaming in California, Wynn stated that The Mirage was the first new hotel built in Las Vegas in years. Its completion resulted in a virtual doubling of resort capacity over the next decade, with more than 30,000 hotel rooms, making Las Vegas one of the fastest-expanding towns in America.

“To call The Mirage a catalyst would be an understatement,” Wynn said.

New resorts 2000 included Excalibur, Luxor, Treasure Island, MGM Grand, New York-New York, Monte Carlo, Bellagio, Mandalay Bay, Venetian, and Paris Las Vegas. Many were funded using Wall Street bonds. Wynn purchased and demolished the 50-year-old Desert Inn to construct and operate his eponymous Wynn Resort in 2005.

Wynn, now 82 and residing in Florida, paid a $10 million punishment to Nevada casino authorities last year and severed connections with the business he helped define to resolve a years-long legal battle sparked by newspaper revelations in 2018 that he sexually harassed or abused several women at his hotels. He has consistently refuted the claims against him.

After Reshaping Las Vegas, The Mirage To Be Reinvented As Part Of A Massive Hard Rock Makeover

Feldman described The Mirage’s architecture as “an unusual and unexpected place, where people wondered, ‘How do you have all this in the middle of the desert?'”

Bo Bernhard, head of the University of Nevada, Las Vegas International Gaming Institute, investigates the emergence of the “fun economy” worldwide. He claimed that the Mirage provided Las Vegas with an exportable commodity, similar to Detroit automobiles, and established a precedent for resort building in Singapore and Sydney.

The Seminole Tribe purchased the Hard Rock brand in 2007, becoming the first Native American operator in the lucrative and competitive Las Vegas Boulevard sector. The tribe also runs seven casinos in Florida and controls the Hard Rock Hotel & Casinos chain, which has locations in 76 countries. 2016, it obtained the naming rights for Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens, Florida.

An off-strip former Hard Rock Hotel in Las Vegas was owned independently. In 2018, a company led by billionaire Richard Branson, creator of the Virgin Company, paid approximately $500 million to buy the hotel-casino from a Toronto investment behemoth. It underwent renovations and reopened in 2021 as Virgin Hotels Las Vegas.

SOURCE – (AP)

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China Tries To Go For 8-For-8 Sweep In Diving Gold At The Paris Olympics

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China | AP news Image

Chinese divers won seven of eight gold medals at the previous Olympics in Tokyo, making it one of the best performances in Olympic history.

More is predicted this time in Paris.

China Tries To Go For 8-For-8 Sweep In Diving Gold At The Paris Olympics

China has dominated diving for decades. However, it has never completed the elusive gold medal sweep at the Games. In a recent article, the People’s Daily, the Communist Party’s official publication, called this lapse “regrettable”.

How is that for pressure?

“I hope that all of us can stand on the top of the podium,” Tokyo gold medalist Quan Hongchan said in an interview with state media.

They might, and the evidence is already startling.

China has won 47 out of 64 gold medals, dating back to the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics, when it earned its first diving gold. Add to that 23 silver and 10 bronze. If you start counting from the 2008 Beijing Olympics, China has won 27 of 32 gold medals.

That’s almost perfect, but someone always spoils the party, such as American David Boudia, Australian Matthew Mitcham, British Tom Daley, or Russian Ilya Zakharov.

The People’s Daily called the team to “launch an all-out bid this time for gold medals in all diving events.”

Three years ago, at 14, Quan won gold on the 10-meter platform. Teammate Chen Yuxi, who won gold in synchro on the platform, was only 15. Both have returned and are most likely in separate classes.

Wang Zongyuan, the silver medalist on the 3-meter springboard in Tokyo behind teammate Xie Siyi, is expected to be the favorite in Paris.

The American Challenge
Drew Johansen will coach the United States diving team for the fourth consecutive Olympics. Wenbo Chen, the University of Minnesota’s Chinese-born coach, assists the head coach at Indiana University. Purdue coach David Boudia, who won an Olympic gold medal on the platform in 2012, is also on the staff.

Three Tokyo silver medalists are back: Andrew Capobianco, Jessica Parratto, and Delaney Schnell. They all reached the podium in synchronized events, which may provide the best opportunities for Americans and others.

Parratto will dive again with Schnell on the 10-meter synchronized platform while Capobianco is on the 3-meter springboard. He did not qualify for synchronized. Schnell and Daryn Wright will compete on the platform.

“The world has been catching up to the Chinese in all the events except for women’s platform,” Johansen told reporters. “Chinese women on the tower are still way ahead of the world.”

Sarah Bacon and Kassidy Cook have a chance in the 3-meter synchronized springboard, while Bacon and Alison Gibson should compete as soloists.

Carson Tyler is the new name to watch in both the 10-meter platform and the 3-meter springboard, a rare in both disciplines and reminiscent of Greg Louganis’ double-double gold medals in 1984 and 1988.

“Carson has shown up as a great mental performer,” Johansen added.

“We’ve managed to beat China in certain events over the years and I feel like some parity has come to the sport,” he said afterward. “We have been hovering around those gold medals and points away from getting them.”

According to Johansen, part of the objective is to create pressure on the Chinese by attempting more difficult dives that, if completed successfully, will earn them more points.

“It’s a risk-reward game,” he explained.

The Mental Game
Johansen praises Xu Yiming, who taught Chinese Olympic divers from the mid-1980s to the 2000s, for sharing his technical expertise with the rest of the globe. Johansen considers Xu a mentor from their time together while Johansen was coaching at Duke University.

China Tries To Go For 8-For-8 Sweep In Diving Gold At The Paris Olympics

“He taught me a lot of their physical techniques right after he retired,” she said.

After incorporating this knowledge, the next plateau is mental conditioning.

“I physically couldn’t train them any better,” he told me. “I didn’t know anyone who was doing it better. The only way I could help my athletes succeed was to mentally prepare them, which I didn’t know how to do.

Johansen says he’s lately started creating a “performance think tank” to educate mental focus and sports psychology. Without naming names, he stated that the team comprises a Navy SEAL, a book author, and others who practice executing under pressure.

The program was launched only a few months ago and includes Paris, but the primary focus is on the 2028 Los Angeles Games.

“We acquired China’s physical skills, but if we want to beat them, we must also overcome them intellectually. “I’m convinced of that,” Johansen stated. “We have an advantage over the Chinese if we can be mentally stronger and better performers.”

SOURCE | AP

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Former President Trump Survives Being Shot at Pennsylvania Rally

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The United States Secret Service has announced that former President Trump is safe after being shot at a rally in Pennsylvania. A video shows Trump grimacing and placing his right hand to his head before the Secret Service intervenes.

“The Secret Service has implemented protective measures and the former president is safe,” a Secret Service spokesperson said on X after what the agency called an incident. “This is now an active Secret Service investigation and further information will be released when available.”

Multiple shots were heard at the outdoor rally in Butler, Pennsylvania, shortly after President Trump began his speech.

The Secret Service then surrounded President Trump pushing him beneath the platform, while armed officers took up positions at the front of the stage. President Trump repeatedly raised his fist to the audience and shouted as he was led to a vehicle by the Secret Service.

There is no information on whom the attempted assassin may have been or if any arrests have been made.

former President Trump is surrounded by U.S. Secret Service agents

President Trump is surrounded by U.S. Secret Service agents – AP Image

In a statement, Trump’s communication director, Steven Cheung, said that the former president “is fine” and being checked over at an unnamed medical facility. He said President Trump thanks law enforcement and first responders for their quick action during this heinous act.

Reuters reports the venue where Trump was speaking was abandoned with chairs knocked over and yellow police tape around the stage. A helicopter flew above and law enforcement officers walked through the area, the video feed showed.

Armed law enforcement officers were also seen on a roof near the stage where President Trump was standing.

In 2020 a New York man upset with what he perceived as Donald Trump’s threat to democracy was criminally charged on Monday with threatening to kill the former president, who he once referred to as Hitler, the Guardian reported.

According to an unsealed complaint, Thomas Welnicki, 72, of Rockaway Beach, showed an interest in assassinating the then-president in an interview with US Capitol police in July 2020, as well as repeated calls to the Secret Service the following year.

Welnicki was charged with threatening to kill, kidnap, and do bodily damage to Trump. He allegedly told Capitol police that if Trump lost the 2020 election and refused to resign, he would “acquire weapons” and “take him down”. In one voicemail left with the Secret Service, he stated that he would “do anything I can to take out” Trump.

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