Taiwan says US ties solid, as opposition chides over Trump’s response

Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen reacts during an interview with Reuters in Taipei. (Reuters)
Updated 01 May 2017
0

Taiwan says US ties solid, as opposition chides over Trump’s response

TAIPEI: Taiwan’s relations with the US are solid with regular contacts, its foreign minister said on Monday, as the government came under opposition criticism over US President Donald Trump’s cool response to the possibility of a phone call with Taiwan’s leader.
Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen told Reuters in an interview on Thursday that if the need arose, she would not rule out talking directly again to the US president, when asked about such a possibility. But later in the day, Trump brushed aside the suggestion.
Responding in a regular parliamentary session to opposition references to Trump’s comments, the island’s Foreign Minister David Lee said relations with the US were good.
“The outlook for Taiwan-US relations is very optimistic,” Lee told lawmakers.
Lee said there were “fixed” channels of high-level contacts between the two sides.
He said Taiwan was waiting for the US administration to fill vacancies at senior levels, such as those that handle Asian affairs, to be able to implement bilateral policies.
Trump took a congratulatory phone call from Tsai in early December, the first such contact in nearly four decades.
The conversation raised questions about Trump’s commitment to the long-standing US position of acknowledging Beijing’s cherished “one China” policy, that there is only one China and that Taiwan is part of China.
The December call also infuriated Beijing which fears contacts between Taiwan and foreign governments would confer sovereignty on the island. Democratic Taiwan, self-ruled since 1949, has no interest in being ruled by the autocratic mainland.
Taiwan opposition politicians said Trump’s shying away from the possibility of another phone call, in comments in an interview with Reuters, cast doubt in Taiwan on the strength of US ties, even though Taiwan’s government has said both sides had communicated on the issue and no phone call was being planned at this stage anyway.
“We heard it and felt very uncomfortable,” opposition Nationalist party lawmaker Johnny Chiang said when questioning Lee.
Trump, after raising doubts about his stance on the “one-China” policy, agreed in February to honor it. He played host to Xi at his Florida resort in April and later said he established a good relationship with him.
Taiwan ruling party lawmaker Liu Shyh-fang said Trump was the most difficult ever US president to predict.
“His only policy is: Hard to predict.”


Man killed in random knife attack at California steakhouse

Updated 22 April 2018
0

Man killed in random knife attack at California steakhouse

  • The victim was dining with his family when the suspect came and stabbed him without warning
  • Police say suspect is a felon who had been convicted for burglary and unlawful sexual intercourse since the 1990s

LOS ANGELES: A homeless man who randomly stabbed a patron in a crowded Southern California restaurant to death as he was holding his daughter was reported just a few hours earlier for disruptive behavior, but police ultimately determined he was not a threat, authorities said Saturday.
Jamal Jackson, 49, is facing a first-degree murder charge in the death of 35-year-old Anthony Mele. He was being held in Ventura County jail on a $1.5 million bail. It was unclear if Jackson, who is also a convicted felon, had an attorney to speak on his behalf.
Mele and his wife were eating dinner with their 5-year-old daughter Wednesday at Aloha Steakhouse in the seaside city of Ventura. The girl was sitting on her father’s lap when prosecutors say Jackson walked up and stabbed Mele in the neck.
Prosecutor Richard Simon said customers and a restaurant employee followed Jackson out of the restaurant, even though he still had the knife. They kept track of him until Ventura police arrived and arrested him.
Mele was taken to a hospital and died Thursday after being taken off life support.
“It’s horrible,” Simon said. “You don’t think you’re going to be killed when you go out to dinner at a nice restaurant with your family and you didn’t do anything.”
Simon said the two men had not interacted before the attack.
“He was just sitting there with his daughter in his lap,” Simon said. “You’re not supposed to die that way.”
Mele’s loved ones started a GoFundMe page to help raise money for a funeral and to support his wife and daughter.
Mele’s Facebook page was filled with photos of his daughter and said he was a manager at an AT&T store.
Police confirmed that a bystander reported a man — who turned out to be Jackson — for disruptive behavior several hours before the stabbing.
According to the bystander, a man was yelling on the promenade not far from the beachside restaurant about three hours before the attack.
Patrol officers were out on other calls so command center staff monitored the man via a pier security camera system for more than 20 minutes before deciding he didn’t seem to be a threat, police said.
Police are asking anyone who spoke with Jackson during that time to contact investigators in the city 70 miles (113 kilometers) northwest of Los Angeles.
Jackson also had half a dozen contacts with police in Ventura since the beginning of the year, including an arrest after a physical fight at a park, said Commander Tom Higgins.
He was also stopped on March 31 after a passer-by reported he was brandishing a knife. Police searched his bag and found a knife but there was no victim so no charge was filed, Higgins said.
Jackson has a lengthy rap sheet including charges in San Bernardino County, Higgins said, as well as convictions for burglary and unlawful sexual intercourse dating back to the 1990s.
The killing prompted the Ventura City Council to increase police patrols in the area and add staff members to monitor security cameras, among other measures.
“We are extremely disheartened and infuriated by this criminal attack,” Mayor Neal Andrews said in a statement. “We will not tolerate this in our community. Nothing is more important than the safety of our visitors, residents and businesses.”
If convicted, Jackson faces up to 55 years in prison.