China’s aircraft carrier sails by Taiwan as tensions rise

The aircraft carrier Liaoning — a second-hand Soviet-built ship — caused a stir in Taiwan when it first entered the strait in January last year in what was seen as a show of strength by Beijing. (AFP)
Updated 21 March 2018
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China’s aircraft carrier sails by Taiwan as tensions rise

TAIPEI: China’s sole aircraft carrier has passed through the Taiwan Strait, the island’s defense ministry said Wednesday, as Beijing warned against any move to “separate the country.”
The Liaoning and accompanying vessels entered Taiwan’s air defense zone on Tuesday and left around noon Wednesday, the ministry said.
Chinese President Xi Jinping delivered a blistering nationalist speech on Tuesday, warning against what he called any attempts to split China.
“All acts and tricks to separate the country are doomed to fail and will be condemned by the people and punished by history,” Xi said in an address ending the annual session of the National People’s Congress.
China still sees Taiwan as its territory awaiting reunification, by force if necessary, even though the two sides split in 1949 after a civil war and have been ruled separately ever since.
Ties have turned frosty since Taiwan’s Beijing-skeptic President Tsai Ing-wen came to power. Her government refuses to acknowledge that the island is part of “one China.”
Tsai has warned against what she called China’s military expansion — the increase in air and naval drills around the island since she took office in May 2016.
The aircraft carrier — a second-hand Soviet-built ship — caused a stir in Taiwan when it first entered the strait in January last year in what was seen as a show of strength by Beijing.
It returned in January this year.
“We are monitoring the whole process of the Liaoning’s cross-region drill,” Defense Minister Yeh De-fa told parliament Wednesday when asked to comment on its latest moves.
The defense ministry said in a statement that it sent aircraft and vessels to conduct surveillance. “No unusual activities have been spotted and we urge the public to rest assured,” it said.


Bill Cosby convicted of drugging and molesting a woman

Updated 26 April 2018
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Bill Cosby convicted of drugging and molesting a woman

NORRISTOWN-PENNSILVANIA: Bill Cosby was convicted Thursday of drugging and molesting a woman in the first big celebrity trial of the #MeToo era,
completing the spectacular late-life downfall of a comedian who broke racial barriers in Hollywood on his way to TV superstardom as America’s Dad.
Cosby, 80, could end up spending his final years in prison after a jury concluded he sexually violated Temple University employee Andrea Constand at his suburban Philadelphia home in 2004. He claimed the encounter was consensual.
Cosby stared straight ahead as the verdict was read, but moments later lashed out loudly at District Attorney Kevin Steele and called him an “a--hole” after the prosecutor asked that Cosby be immediately jailed because he might flee. Cosby denied he has an airplane and shouted, “I’m sick of him!“
The judge decided Cosby can remain free on bail while he awaits sentencing.
Shrieks erupted in the courtroom when the verdict was announced, and some of his accusers whimpered and cried. Constand remained stoic, then hugged her lawyer and members of the prosecution team.
“Justice has been done!” celebrity attorney Gloria Allred, who represented some of Cosby’s accusers, said on the courthouse steps. “We are so happy that finally we can say women are believed.”
The verdict came after a two-week retrial in which prosecutors put five other women on the stand who testified that Cosby, married for 54 years, drugged and violated them, too. One of those women asked him through her tears, “You remember, don’t you, Mr. Cosby?“
The panel of seven men and five women reached a verdict after deliberating 14 hours over two days, vindicating prosecutors’ decision to retry Cosby after his first trial ended with a hung jury less than a year ago.
Cosby could get up to 10 years in prison on each of the three counts of aggravated indecent assault. He is likely to get less than that under state sentencing guidelines, but given his age, even a modest term could mean he will die behind bars.
Constand, 45, a former Temple women’s basketball administrator, told jurors that Cosby knocked her out with three blue pills he called “your friends” and then penetrated her with his fingers as she lay immobilized, unable to resist or say no.
It was the only criminal case to arise from a barrage of allegations from more than 60 women who said the former TV star drugged and molested them over a span of five decades.
“The time for the defendant to escape justice is over,” prosecutor Stewart Ryan said in his closing argument. “It’s finally time for the defendant to dine on the banquet of his own consequences.”
Another prosecutor, Kristen Feden, said Cosby was “nothing like the image that he played on TV” as sweater-wearing, wisdom-dispensing father of five Dr. Cliff Huxtable on “The Cosby Show.”