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Malicious Liar Tulsi Gabbard Sues Hillary Clinton for $50 million.

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Tulsi Gabbard, the Democratic nominee for the presidency, has filed Hillary Clinton’s $50 million defamation lawsuit to disseminate malicious lies about her non-existent ties with Russia.

Clinton, a presidential candidate with two defeats, called Gabbard a “Russian weapon” on a podcast October 17. Although its assertion was entirely unfounded, the former Secretary of State declined to retract her comment.

In a city hall campaign event in Charlestown, New Hampshire, Ms. Gabbard was asked about Clinton’s false statement on Wednesday night.

Gabbard said, “I’m a nationalist, I love our country.

“I won’t stand by as Hillary Clinton or anyone else attempts to undermine my patriotism and commitment to our country,” she said in a clip of the gathering.

“I brought a defamation suit against her,” Gabbard declared. A Clinton spokesman did not comment on Gabbard’s Manhattan federal lawsuit in The Times. “I keep her accountable.”

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BBC Blasted For Giving Brits Advice On How To Hug Safely

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The BBC has been extensively mocked for lecturing Britons about how to properly hug one another.

Following news that the government would soon “make” kissing again, the broadcaster agreed to offer people guidance on how to embrace safely.

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According to RT: Prime Minister Boris Johnson is set to go ahead with plans to relax lockout limits, including guidelines on hugs. The government is “hopeful” that hugs will be allowed soon, but people should be “cautious” when engaged in amicable contact, according to Health Minister Nadine Dorries. Cabinet Office minister Michael Gove reiterated her comments, saying that Downing Street wished to totally restore “friendly contact” amongst citizens.

The government’s somewhat arrogant assumption that it should “make” Britons to embrace each other seemed to thrill the BBC, which rushed to gather experts to weigh in on how to responsibly wrap your arms around someone.

The public broadcaster turned to Catherine Noakes, an expert in airborne diseases at the University of Leeds, who clarified that her countrymen would always be “a little cautious” and that you should think twice before reaching in for an embrace.

“It would concern me if we were advocating that we should embrace all of our mates any time we saw them,” Noakes said, adding that such actions could “perpetuate an awful lot of additional near contact,” potentially spreading coronavirus.

She set out some simple ground rules for Britons brave enough to take an embrace. First, limit kissing to “near relatives.” Second, “don’t hug too much.” Keep it brief.” And most critically, she advised, “avoid being face-to-face, turn your face away slightly.”

The BBC also screened a series of informative illustrations that relayed Noakes’ expert advice.

“The BBC is basically teaching people how to hug,” said Paul Nuki, senior editor of the Telegraph’s Global Health Security site.

Many more were drawn to the kissing tips.

“The BBC has just hit a new low with its support of ‘nanny state’ culture,” one dismissive response read.

Others were irritated with the idea that people had started kissing their loved ones on the orders of the authorities.

Anyone who is sitting around waiting for the government to allow them to hug people is a total moron. They’ve been conditioned to within an inch of their lives. Totally pitiful.

Hugging was never against the law, according to Silkie Carlo, head of the civil rights organisation Big Brother Watch, and it was disgusting that the media tried to pretend as though the government had the right to tell people who they should contact and where.

Hugging was never *not* allowed, but the fact that no one in the media investigated or criticised this, and that the commentariat seems to be OK with Michael Gove instructing the public on whether they can/cannot tolerate other people, is why we’re now living in a twilight totalitarianism scenario.

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According to a White House insider, Biden is not who the public believes he is: ‘the most liberal president we’ve seen’

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According to a source loyal to President Joe Biden’s White House, the former vice president and long-serving former senator is a radical leftist disguised as a centrist, which his administration is using.

The Intelligencer’s Olivia Nuzzi revealed last week that she met with someone who said the Biden administration relies on people brushing off his radical policies and instead focusing on his more cordial record in an article on how the White House “polices vocabulary” to advance its agenda.

According to the individual quoted by Nuzzi, Biden’s team depends on misdirection about who the president is at this stage, now that he has shifted to the extreme left, as a tactic.

The unnamed source was said to be “close to the White House.”

“There is a very good chance that this plan will work,” the source explained. “They might face backlash in thought pieces on it, but at 100 days, Biden is the most mainstream president we’ve seen — and the country believes he’s a moderate.”

“That sounds like a winning tactic to me. They’re able to support your writing this piece as long as they know swing voters in Colorado won’t read it,” the source concluded.

According to the source, the White House wants low-information media audiences to disregard facts and merely note Biden once had a track record as a moderate.

Prior to quoting the source, Nuzzi quoted a “gaffe” Biden made last month during a round of golf at a Delaware country club. The blunder was to be Nuzzi’s proof of the White House’s stranglehold on vocabulary surrounding controversy.

When asked about the border crisis, Biden told reporters, “We’re going to raise the figures.” “The challenge was that the refugee section was focused on the situation that had resulted in underage people arriving at the border, and we couldn’t do both at the same time.”

Do you consider Biden to be more liberal than Obama?

The problem for Biden’s advisers was that he used the term “crisis” to describe the country’s precarious condition on its southern frontier. Despite the fact that his presidency has taken a firm stand against referring to the situation as a “crisis,”

Despite a hurricane of mass media attention, Biden’s “gaffe” generated some headlines, but his “crisis” revelation was soon overlooked.

The saga, and Intelligencer’s coverage of it, did provide a glimpse into how the government allegedly and knowingly manipulates policy messaging through linguistics in order to look benign and steal the narrative.

According to Nuzzi, White House press secretary Jen Psaki explained away Biden’s crisis “gaffe” last month in a manner that allowed the administration wiggle room by the subtle use of cryptic words.

“Reporters and opponents alike were swift to label this spin as ‘backtracking,’ a gradual and slightly interesting move that passes for high drama in Washington’s latest dull season,” Nuzzi wrote.

The reporter came to the conclusion that by redefining the vocabulary in cleaning up after Biden, the White House effectively succeeded in manipulating the message, which is that “crisis” is a relative word and that the president had actually misspoken or not been explicit.

Aside from controlling vocabulary, the majority of the recorded policy seems to be to keep Biden out of the spotlight and let his status as an amiable senator with a bipartisan track record speak for itself.

Nuzzi finished the article by citing former Obama administration advisor David Axelrod, who shared his dissatisfaction with Biden’s lack of integrity when trying to interview him for three years.

But even Axelrod, who is now a CNN analyst, said that he valued Biden’s inaccessibility — even to him.

“I was irritated,” Axelrod admitted to Nuzzi. “But, looking back from my own selfish desires, I appreciated and respected [Biden’s team’s discipline].” They were going to have complete influence of his relationships. It is not their responsibility to represent us. It is their duty to represent him.”

In all of our journalism, we are committed to telling the facts and being accurate. Please review our editorial policies.

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McDonald’s and Uber will assist the White House in Encouraging Vaccine-Skeptical Americans

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McDonald’s and Uber are encouraging ‘vaccine-hesitant’ Americans by printing advertisements on coffee cups and providing free trips to ‘vaccine’ centres.

The fast-food restaurant chain has announced a collaboration with the White House to encourage vaccine notifications on its coffee cups.

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Separately, Joe Biden revealed a new partnership with Lyft and Uber that would include free rides to anyone travelling to a vaccine location to get their shot.

According to The Guardian, beginning in July, US consumers can see revamped McCafé cups and delivery-box seal stickers with the upbeat message “We Can Do This,” a slogan developed by the US health department.

McDonald’s has announced that a vaccination information billboard would be unveiled this month in New York’s Times Square.

The health minister, Xavier Becerra, said in a statement that the public-private relationship “will help more people make better choices about their health and learn about actions they can take to support themselves and their families.”

The ride-sharing giants Uber and Lyft would encourage trips to and from tens of thousands of vaccination sites via their applications as part of Biden’s target of getting 70% of the US adult population vaccinated with at least one shot by July 4, according to the White House.

“People would be able to easily choose a vaccine location near them, obey specific instructions to reclaim their fare, and then receive a free trip to and from a nearby vaccination place.”

The vaccination promotion campaign is set to begin in about two weeks and will run until the Fourth of July holiday.

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Ilhan Omar Applauds Palestinians as Hamas Maintains its Lethal Rocket Barrage

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The only true extremism, according to Ilhan Omar, is when Jews strike back.

As the Israeli Defense Force retaliated this week for a barrage of militant missiles fired from Hamas-controlled Gaza, the Minneapolis Democrat launched her own offensive on social media.

Of course, she wasn’t referring to the Palestinian gangs who have spent the best part of a century killing people and attempting to destroy the Jewish state. Her goal was the Israeli military’s counter-offensive.

She also emphasised the Iron Dome, Israel’s air defence infrastructure designed to shield its civilians from murderous jihadist warheads.

Israeli airstrikes on civilians in Gaza constitute terrorism.

Palestinians are entitled to immunity.

Unlike Israel, there are no missile defence systems in place to defend Palestinian residents, such as Iron Dome.

“Israeli air strikes targeting people in Gaza is terrorism,” Omar said on Twitter on Monday.

“Unlike Israel, there are no missile defence programmes, such as Iron Dome, to defend Palestinian citizens.

“It is unconscionable not to criticise these attacks during Eid.”

Is Israel being betrayed by the Biden administration?

Omar was referring to the Eid-Al-Fitr holiday, which signifies the close of Ramadan, the Muslim month of fasting during the day.

This year’s Ramadan concludes this week (Eid starts on Wednesday), and Omar is irritated that Israel chose this time to start airstrikes. It may have occurred to her that Hamas terrorists may have preferred to respect Ramadan in their own unique way, such as by refraining from firing a volley of lethal missiles.

According to The New York Times, the recent unrest was caused by a land dispute in East Jerusalem, which may result in the displacement of a half-dozen Palestinian families from a neighbourhood by Jews who have been declared the legitimate owners of the land by Israeli courts. According to The Times, the Israeli Foreign Ministry said in a statement Friday that the militants were “presenting a real-estate conflict between private parties as a nationalistic cause in order to provoke violence in Jerusalem.”

According to CBS News, at least two Israelis and 26 Palestinians had been killed in the recent bloodshed as of Tuesday. According to CBS, the Israelis were civilians. CBS confirmed 26 deaths on the Palestinian side. The Israeli military has classified 15 of those as terrorists.

Omar, on the other hand, does not seem to be bothered by Hamas’ decision to unleash the devastation. Just Israel’s reaction.

Associated:

Unbelievable on-the-ground video depicts what Israelis are seeing as Iron Dome systems fully defeat the Hamas missile swarm.

The Israel Defense Forces had a distinct – and much more understandable – take on the situation.

Each of the hundreds of missiles launched from Gaza into Tel Aviv and central Israel detonated on a civilian bus.

The aims of Hamas are clear: to destroy Israeli civilians.

The IDF included a basic pledge in a Twitter post featuring what it said was a picture of the devastation wrought by only one of hundreds of Palestinian rockets fired in indiscriminate attacks that threaten soldier and civilian alike:

“We will not sit back and watch this happen.”

The two Twitter updates aptly summarise the new feud. According to the IDF and reasonable analysts, the ongoing launch of missile attacks with the express intent of damaging human lives is precisely the kind of aggression that a state serves to defend its people from.

For Omar, the attacks are a chance to rally support for the Palestinian cause – the doomed, decades-long attempt to demolish Israel in favour of a Palestinian statehood that has never existed in history. They have an opportunity to criticise Israel for defending itself.

And the timing helps her to wrap it all in religious zeal, as if Israel were committing a particular kind of sacrilege by retaliating during an Islamic holy month – notwithstanding the fact that Islamic jihadists choose the moment to unleash their new round of murderous mayhem.

As an American lawmaker, Omar’s only responsibility in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is to be truthful about what is going on. According to what is known about her life, integrity is not her strong suit in either the public or private spheres, so it’s not shocking that she struggles spectacularly when it comes to the Levant.

The Israeli military, on the other hand, has a very well-defined responsibility: to defend its civilians while causing harm to those who desire Israel’s ruin.
It has proved its ability to withstand regular military tests in the war of independence in 1948 and the many wars that have followed.

With the passing of decades and the pioneering actions of the Trump administration, some of Israel’s Arab adversaries seem to have realised the futility of perpetual warfare. The Abraham Accords, which resulted in normalised ties between Israel and the Muslim states of Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates, Morocco, and Sudan, effectively opened a new era in Israel’s relations with its neighbours, one that is not kept captive by the radical-chic cause of Palestinian extremism.

Of instance, the Biden administration continues to recognise the Middle East’s current status. In addition to its rash, feckless promotion of a revival of the Iran nuclear deal with an Islamist jihadist nation that has threatened to destroy both the US and Israel, the Biden White House has been blatantly cold to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, delaying an initial call between Joe Biden as president and Netanyahu for weeks after Biden’s inauguration.

The thaw in relations between Israel and the United States could not go unnoticed by Israel’s adversaries, and it could only harm Israel’s stability.

According to The New York Post, former President Donald Trump blamed the recent outbreak of violence on the Biden White House in a statement issued on Monday.

According to the Post, the statement declared, “Under Biden, the planet is becoming more aggressive and chaotic because Biden’s isolation and lack of respect for Israel is contributing to new assaults on our allies.”

“America must always stand by Israel and make it clear that the Palestinians must stop the violence, terror, and missile attacks, and that the United States will always fully support Israel’s right to protect itself.”

Trump recognised the importance of “Israel’s right to self-defense,” as shown by his economic proposals.

It’s a cause that every rational person understands: self-defense is the fundamental right of any citizen or country, particularly one built, like Israel, on the ashes of a coordinated attempt to kill an entire ethnicity.

And it is a cause that the IDF has spent more than 70 years demonstrating to the world, including its Arab adversaries, that it recognises and can successfully follow.

What it is not, though, is a cause that leftists like Ilhan Omar and her political allies understand.

To them, Israel, the Middle East’s only real democracy, is still the oppressor. On the left, Palestinians who have spent decades rejecting any potential peace settlement while engaged in a never-ending conflict that threatens both military and civilians are still the victims.

And abuse is only “terrorism” when Jews react in kind.

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Poll Finds That 80% of Canadians Support Vaccine Passports for Freedom

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A staggering 80% of Canadians favour the concept of vaccination passports if it means returning to everyday life.

Between May 7 and 9, Leger polled 1,529 Canadians online and discovered that three-quarters of Canadians want a vaccination passport to be given away for free after they’ve had the vaccine.

According to Globalnews.ca, more than eight in ten Canadian respondents are either either vaccinated or expect to be when their turn comes, which is nearly equal to the figure that said the same thing in a similar survey taken a month earlier.

It is up from six out of ten people in October to seven out of ten in January.

Almost 40% of Canadians have already received at least one injection of COVID-19 vaccine, and health authorities have stated that at least 75% must be vaccinated in order to achieve herd immunity against COVID-19.

Despite AstraZeneca and Johnson & Johnson’s possible connection to an uncommon yet dangerous blood clotting syndrome, there is widespread trust in the vaccine. In the two weeks preceding the survey, 12 Canadians were diagnosed with VITT, three of whom died, out of over two million people vaccinated with AstraZeneca.

The National Advisory Committee on Immunization advised on April 23 that people at low risk of COVID-19 wait until they can reach Pfizer or Moderna before getting vaccinated, rather than getting AstraZeneca right away. On May 3, they said the same thing about J&J.

Following those comments, confidence in those vaccinations has declined.

More than eight out of ten people polled said they believe Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna, which are unrelated to the clots. Fewer than half of those polled trusted AstraZeneca or Johnson & Johnson.

A month ago, almost seven in ten Canadians trusted J&J and slightly more than half trusted AstraZeneca.

The overwhelming majority of Canadians, however, would not be affected because approximately 85 percent of vaccine doses distributed as of May 1 were Pfizer or Moderna, and more than 88 percent of doses predicted in the next two months are the same. By the end of June, all Canadians above the age of 12 should be able to get their first dose.

According to the survey, almost three-quarters of Canadians want a free vaccination passport after they’ve been immunised.

However, funding for those passports varies depending on their intended use.

Approximately eight in ten favour using them for domestic or foreign travel, compared to approximately six in ten who believe it is appropriate for the government or company owners to request vaccine passports for anything from going out to dinner to attending a concert or a basketball game, or getting your hair done.

Just half of those polled believe store owners should need them for non-essential retail purchases.

Overall, support for vaccine passports is lowest in Alberta, at just over 50%, and among people under the age of 55.

The Canadian government has stated that it would work with foreign partners to develop a mechanism for offering evidence of vaccination status, but Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has expressed reservations about using vaccine passports for operations within Canada.

According to Bourque, enthusiasm for the principle of governments not authorising citizens to work in health care or other government employment until they are vaccinated is also poor.

“You can’t take away someone’s ability to earn a living… “I believe it is where Canadians seem to be setting the bar,” he added.

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Idaho Governor Signs Bill to Prevent Biden’s Gun Control Crackdown

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Republican Idaho Gov. Brad Little signed legislation on Monday aimed at thwarting President Joe Biden’s half-dozen executive orders to increase weapons regulations.

The bill was approved by veto-proof majorities in both the Idaho House and Senate and held an urgency warning, which meant it went into effect upon Little’s signature. The new legislation goes into effect on January 20, the day Biden was sworn in as president.

It prohibits all Idaho government agencies from imposing any executive orders, federal regulations, department orders, or policies of the United States government regarding weapons that are in violation of the Idaho Constitution.

Idaho also has a bill that was passed in 2014 that states that the state government cannot prosecute federal actions that violate Second Amendment rights.

Biden’s orders include a crackdown on “ghost weapons,” which are homemade firearms made from purchased gun pieces that lack serial numbers.

Biden has moved to increase restrictions on pistol-stabilizing braces, such as the one used in last month’s Boulder, Colorado, supermarket shooting that killed ten people, including a police officer. Handgun braces make them to be shot from the hip, just like a rifle.

Biden is also advocating for so-called “red flag rules,” which will authorise family members or law enforcement to request court orders temporarily banning individuals from possessing weapons if they believe they are a threat to themselves or others.

Backers of Little’s law said it also protects Idaho weapons and ammo makers from being found liable if their guns are used in crimes.

Opponents claimed that enacting legislation that contradicts federal regulations could result in the state losing federal funds. Supporters have accepted this possibility, but have stated that Idaho received no federal funds since the 2014 legislation was passed.

Can you agree with this bill?

Biden also stated that one of his top priorities for Congress is to pass legislation prohibiting individuals formerly accused of misdemeanour stalking from owning handguns, to eliminate litigation loopholes for gun makers, and to outlaw “assault weapons” and high-capacity magazines.

He has since urged the Senate to take up House-passed legislation to close gaps in background checks for gun sales.

However, with the Senate equally split and every gun reform measures needing 60 votes to pass, Democrats will have to retain any member of their slim majority while gaining the votes of 10 Republicans.

In all of our journalism, we are committed to telling the facts and being accurate. Please review our editorial policies.

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Suez Canal chief: A vessel has been impounded due to a financial issue

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The canal director and a judicial official said Tuesday that Egyptian authorities had impounded a giant container ship that had blocked the Suez Canal last month due to a financial dispute with its owner.

According to Lt. Gen. Osama Rabie, the hulking Ever Given would not be able to leave the country until a settlement is reached with the vessel’s Japanese owner, Shoei Kisen Kaisha Ltd.

“The vessel has now been legally impounded,” he said late Monday on Egypt’s state-run television. “They refuse to pay anything.”

The vessel’s owner made no immediate comment.

Rabie did not specify the amount of money sought by the canal authority. A judicial official, however, stated that it requested at least $900 million. The $900 million figure was also published by the state-run Ahram daily.

This figure includes the expense of the rescue process, the costs of stalled canal flow, and missed transit fees for the week that the Ever Given was blocking the canal.

According to the official, the order to impound the vessel was given Monday by a court in the Suez Canal city of Ismailia, and the vessel’s crew was notified on Tuesday.

Prosecutors in Ismailia, he added, had also launched a separate investigation into what caused the Ever Provided to capsize. Since he was not allowed to address the public, the official spoke on the condition of anonymity.

Rabie stated that talks to negotiate an agreement on payments were still pending.

In an interview with The Associated Press last week, he cautioned that taking the matter to court would be more damaging to the vessel’s owner than settling with canal administration.

Since the vessel is owned by a Japanese company, run by a Taiwanese shipper, and flagged in Panama, the litigation may be complicated.

The Panama-flagged ship was carrying $3.5 billion in freight between Asia and Europe when it ran aground March 23 in the short, man-made canal that separates continental Africa from the Asian Sinai Peninsula.

The ship had collided with the bank of a single-lane stretch of the canal about 6 kilometres (3.7 miles) north of the canal’s southern entrance, near Suez.

On March 29, salvage crews freed the Ever Given, bringing an end to a crisis that had clogged one of the world’s most important waterways and stopped billions of dollars in maritime trade. The ship is now idling in Egypt’s Great Bitter Lake, just north of where it formerly blocked the canal.

The unexpected six-day shutdown, which sparked concerns about lengthy delays, product shortages, and increasing consumer prices, contributed to the burden on the shipping industry, which was still under strain due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Rabie, the canal’s president, told state television that the canal authority had done nothing wrong. He refused to comment on potential factors, such as the ship’s speed or the strong winds that buffeted it during a sandstorm.

When asked if the ship’s owner was at fault, he said, “Of course, indeed.”

Rabie stated that the authority’s investigation will be completed on Thursday.

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Army of fake fans boosts China’s messaging on Twitter

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China’s ruling Communist Party has launched a new front in its long-running, aggressive campaign to influence global public opinion: Western social media.

Liu Xiaoming, China’s former ambassador to the United Kingdom, is one of the party’s most effective foot soldiers on this changing online battlefield. He entered Twitter in October 2019, when a flood of Chinese diplomats flooded the site, which is blocked in China.

Since then, Liu has skillfully raised his public profile, amassing a fan base of over 119,000 as an exemplar of China’s latest razor-sharp “wolf fighter” diplomacy, a phrase derived from the title of a top-grossing Chinese action film.

“As far as I can see, there are so-called ‘wolf warriors’ because there are ‘wolves’ in the universe, and you need warriors to battle them,” Liu, now China’s Special Representative on Korean Peninsula Affairs, tweeted in February.

From June to February, his messages — principled and brave retweets to Western anti-Chinese racism to his supporters, offensive bombast to his critics — were retweeted more than 43,000 times.

However, much of the widespread support Liu and many of his colleagues seem to have on Twitter has been fabricated.

The Associated Press and the Oxford Internet Institute, a department at Oxford University, conducted a seven-month investigation and discovered that China’s rise on Twitter has been fueled by an army of fake accounts that have retweeted Chinese diplomats and state media tens of thousands of times, covertly amplifying propaganda that can reach hundreds of millions of people — even without disclosing the fact that

 

This method of study is possible because Twitter provides more data to analysts than most social media sites do on a regular basis.

From June to January, more than half of Liu’s retweets came from accounts banned by Twitter for breaking the platform’s laws, which forbid manipulation. More than one out of every ten retweets received by 189 Chinese diplomats during that time period came from accounts that Twitter had suspended by March 1.

However, Twitter’s suspensions had no impact on the pro-China amplification rig. An additional swarm of bogus pages, many of which impersonate U.K. Citizens continued to promote Chinese government material, garnering over 16,000 retweets and replies until Twitter suspended them late last month and early this month in response to the AP and Oxford Internet Institute’s investigation.

This fiction of success will elevate the prestige of China’s messengers, generating the illusion of widespread support. It can also skew website algorithms intended to increase the dissemination of common content, potentially exposing more legitimate users to Chinese government propaganda. Although individual fake accounts do not seem to have much effect on their own, such networks may distort the information ecosystem over time and at scale, increasing the scope and credibility of China’s messaging.

“You have a seismic, gradual but massive continental change in narratives,” said Timothy Graham, a senior lecturer in social networks at Queensland University of Technology. “Steering things just a little bit at a time will have a huge impact.”

Twitter and others have previously established fake pro-China networks. The AP/Oxford Internet Institute investigation, however, demonstrates for the first time that large-scale inauthentic amplification has broadly driven engagement through official government and state media accounts, adding to evidence that Beijing’s appetite for guiding public opinion — covertly, if necessary — extends beyond its borders and beyond core strategic interests such as Taiwan, Hong Kong, and Xinjia.

Twitter’s takedowns were often the product of weeks or months of action. Overall, the Associated Press and the Oxford Internet Institute reported 26,879 accounts that retweeted Chinese diplomats or state media almost 200,000 times before being removed. They contributed for a sizable portion — often more than half — of the overall retweets received from several diplomatic accounts on Twitter.

It was impossible to tell if the accounts were sponsored by the Chinese government.

Twitter told AP that many of the accounts had been sanctioned for manipulation, but refused to elaborate about any other network breaches that could have occurred. Twitter said it was looking at whether the activity was linked to a state-sponsored intelligence campaign.

“We will continue to review and take action against accounts that breach our site manipulation policies, including accounts affiliated with these networks,” said a Twitter representative in a tweet. “If we have strong evidence of state-affiliated intelligence operations, our first priority is to apply our laws and delete accounts that are engaged in this behaviour.” When our inquiries are over, we publish all of the accounts and content in our public archive.”

China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs said that it did not engage in social media deception. “There is no so-called false propaganda, nor is a paradigm of online public opinion advice being exported,” the ministry said in a statement to the Associated Press. “We hope that the concerned parties will drop their racist stance, remove their tinted lenses, and adopt a peaceful, reflective, and fair solution in the spirit of transparency and inclusion.”

BATTLEFIELD OF IDEOLOGY

Twitter and Facebook serve as formidable — but one-sided — global megaphones for China’s ruling Communist Party, amplifying messaging narrowly set by central authorities.

At least 270 Chinese diplomats are now participating on Twitter and Facebook, spread across 126 countries. They monitor 449 Twitter and Facebook accounts, which updated nearly 950,000 times between June and February, in collaboration with Chinese state media. According to the Oxford Internet Institute and AP’s study, these tweets were liked over 350 million times and responded to and forwarded over 27 million times. Three-quarters of Chinese diplomats on Twitter have only been there for two years.

The shift to Western social media comes as China fights for power – both at home and abroad – on the internet, which President Xi Jinping has referred to as the “main battlefield” for public opinion.

“Whether we can withstand and win on the battleground of the Internet is closely linked to our country’s ideological security and political security,” he said in 2013, not long after taking office. Xi gave another speech in September 2019, when Chinese diplomats flocked to Twitter, encouraging party cadres to improve their “war spirit.”

Xi has restructured China’s internet regulation, tightening regulations and further tying Chinese media to the government, as he said in a 2016 interview, to ensure that the media “loves, defends, and supports the party.”

This closeness was formalised in 2018, when the party centralised institutional oversight of major print, radio, film, and television networks under the Central Propaganda Department, which it oversees.
Chinese Ambassador to the United Kingdom Liu Xiaoming, left, chats with Britain’s Prince William, Duke of Cambridge at the Tusk Conservation Awards at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London on November 30, 2016. (Photo by Stuart C. Wilson/Pool via AP, File)

China, like other countries, has realised the importance of social media in amplifying its messages and strengthening its influence. However, unrestricted access to Western social media has provided Beijing with a unilateral edge in the global battle for power.

Within China, Twitter and Facebook are barred, and Beijing monitors the discourse on domestic substitutes such as WeChat and Weibo, effectively closing off unmediated links to the Chinese public.

“It poses a huge threat to Western democracies.” “Because China has walled off its internet, we don’t have the same potential to manipulate foreign audiences,” said Jacob Wallis, a senior researcher at the Australian Strategic Policy Institute’s International Cyber Policy Centre. “This provides a substantial asymmetric advantage.”

Despite high levels of Chinese government involvement, Twitter and Facebook have repeatedly refused to mark state material. Twitter started labelling accounts belonging to “key government officials” and state-affiliated media last year in an attempt to provide users with more information. However, as of March 1, Twitter had labelled just 14 percent of Chinese diplomatic accounts on the site, failing to flag thousands of authenticated profiles.

According to Twitter, not all diplomatic accounts would be flagged in accordance with its policy of labelling senior officials and organisations who talk on behalf of a country abroad. It included no further information about how such choices are taken and refused to include a list of Chinese accounts that have been classified.

Last year, Facebook started adding accountability marks to state-controlled media pages. However, despite the fact that Chinese state material is widely distributed in Spanish, French, and Arabic, among other languages, disclosure is particularly poor in languages other than English.

As of March 1, Facebook had named two-thirds of a survey of 95 Chinese state media accounts in English, but just a quarter of accounts in other languages. Facebook, unlike Twitter, does not flag diplomatic pages, the vast majority of which are official embassy and consulate accounts.

Facebook labelled a further 41 Chinese state media outlets called to their notice by the Associated Press and the Oxford Internet Institute, raising the total percentage of labelled accounts from less than half to approximately 90%. The organisation stated that it was looking into the remaining issues.

“We add the branding on a rotating basis and will continue to label more publishers and sites over time,” a group spokeswoman told the Associated Press in a tweet. The corporation refused to include a complete list of the Chinese state media accounts that it has flagged.

The Chi is a kind of bird.

According to Twitter, not all diplomatic accounts would be flagged in accordance with its policy of labelling senior officials and organisations who talk on behalf of a country abroad. It included no further information about how such choices are taken and refused to include a list of Chinese accounts that have been classified.

Last year, Facebook started adding accountability marks to state-controlled media pages. However, despite the fact that Chinese state material is widely distributed in Spanish, French, and Arabic, among other languages, disclosure is particularly poor in languages other than English.

As of March 1, Facebook had named two-thirds of a survey of 95 Chinese state media accounts in English, but just a quarter of accounts in other languages. Facebook, unlike Twitter, does not flag diplomatic pages, the vast majority of which are official embassy and consulate accounts.

Facebook labelled a further 41 Chinese state media outlets called to their notice by the Associated Press and the Oxford Internet Institute, raising the total percentage of labelled accounts from less than half to approximately 90%. The organisation stated that it was looking into the remaining issues.

“We add the branding on a rotating basis and will continue to label more publishers and sites over time,” a group spokeswoman told the Associated Press in a tweet. The corporation refused to include a complete list of the Chinese state media accounts that it has flagged.

The China Media Project, a Hong Kong-based research organisation, discovered that openness labels matter: Twitter users enjoyed and exchanged less tweets from Chinese news outlets after August 2020, when the site began flagging them as state-affiliated media and stopped amplifying and recommending their content.

“We need the labels,” said David Bandurski, director of the China Media Project, but he cautioned that they risk portraying all Chinese media with the same broad brush, even outlets like Caixin that have managed to retain some freedom. “It’s all about appropriating the storey. Telling China’s storey means that only we, the party, get to tell China’s storey. This is also occurring in Portuguese, Spanish, and French. It really is a multinational strategy.”

Hu Xijin, the vocal editor-in-chief of China’s Global Times, recognised the effect right away. On August 14, he expressed his displeasure with the addition of the “China state-affiliated media” mark to his profile, claiming that his follower growth had plummeted. He wrote, “It seems Twitter will finally choke my account.”

CONSENSUS ON COUNTERFEITING

In early February, China’s state news agency Xinhua released a “reality check” of 24 “lies” about Xinjiang that it said were circulated by anti-China forces in the West. China is accused of genocide in Xinjiang for its barbaric, systemic persecution of minority Uighur Muslims.

According to Xinhua, the real issue in Xinjiang is Uighur extremism, not human rights. According to Xinhua, Beijing has brought peace and economic prosperity to its restive western area, and evidence to the contrary has been distorted by US intelligence services, a racist academic, and lying witnesses.

The news was picked up by other Chinese state media outlets, emphasised at a press briefing by China’s foreign ministry, and broadcast on Twitter by the foreign ministry and Chinese diplomats in the United States, India, Djibouti, Canada, Hungary, Austria, Tanzania, Kazakhstan, Jordan, Liberia, Grenada, Nigeria, Lebanon, Trinidad and Tobago, Qatar, and the United Kingdom.

It was then amplified by devoted yet enigmatic followers, such as gyagyagya10, whose account sent out an identical quote-tweet and reaction, within seconds, to a message about Xinjiang posted by China’s Embassy in London, saying, “Ethnic groups in China are well covered, whether in economic or cultural aspects.”

Messages set by key state media outlets and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs are picked up by Chinese diplomats around the world, who repackage the material on Twitter, where it is compounded by networks of bogus and dubious accounts operating covertly to manipulate public opinion for the benefit of China’s ruling Communist Party.

Gyagyagya10, who had only one follower, was part of a network of 62 accounts devoted to amplifying Chinese diplomats in the United Kingdom that Marcel Schliebs, the Oxford Internet Institute’s lead researcher on the initiative, discovered exhibited various patterns indicating teamwork and inauthenticity.

The picture of abstract art shared as a profile photo and the absence of any kind of personal description reveal nothing about gyagyagya10. Indeed, none of the accounts in the network had fully fleshed-out profiles complete with familiar names and authentic profile photographs.

Gyagyagya10’s account launched in mid-August, along with more than a dozen other accounts dedicated solely to supporting tweets by the Chinese Embassy in London and Ambassador Liu. They then fell silent after Liu resigned his post at the end of January.

The network’s 62 accounts retweeted and responded to posts by Chinese diplomats in London almost 30,000 times between June and the end of January, according to the Oxford Internet Institute. They displayed distinct trends in the ways they amplified information.

They, like gyagyagya10, frequently posted similar quote-tweets and responses, and they frequently used identical phrases in their messages, such as “Xinjiang is beautiful” and “shared future for mankind.” Others who interacted with the two diplomatic accounts did neither.
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They were also slavish in their dedication, responding to more than three-quarters of the ambassador’s tweets at times. The fake accounts produced at least 30 to 50 percent of all retweets of Ambassador Liu and the Chinese Embassy in London most weeks.

By March 1, Twitter had removed 31 accounts in the pro-China U.K. network and removed two. The remaining 29 accounts, including gyagyagya10, continued to run, generating over 10,000 retweets and nearly 6,000 responses in favour of China’s UK diplomats until Twitter permanently suspended them for site manipulation at the end of April and beginning of May in response to this investigation.

“We are also mindful of questions about some of the Twitter rules,” China’s Embassy in the United Kingdom said in a statement to the Associated Press. “If retweeting the Chinese Embassy’s tweets is against social media laws, shouldn’t the same rules apply to retweets with misleading rumours, smears, and fake facts against China? We assume the relevant organisations should not apply double standards.”

According to China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, China uses social media in the same manner as other countries do, with the intention of strengthening friendly relations and promoting fact-based contact.

In reality, China’s Twitter network amplifies central authorities’ messaging, both for domestic and global consumption, as diplomats interpret, repackage, and amplify information from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and key state media outlets, network analysis, and scholarly research.

Zhao Alexandre Huang, a visiting assistant professor at Gustave Eiffel University in Paris, examined social media messaging at crucial points in the US-China trade conflict and discovered that material first published on China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ Weibo account was repackaged and broadcast around the world by Chinese diplomats on Twitter.

“The Ministry of Foreign Affairs uses Weibo as a central intelligence kitchen,” Huang said. “It’s a polyphonic illusion.”

According to an AP network report, the most cited pages on Twitter belonged to China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and its spokespeople, as well as People’s Daily, CGTN, China Daily, and Xinhua, and the most involved amplifiers were diplomats.

A core of hyperactive super-fans has aided the party’s activities on Twitter. From June to January, 151,000 users retweeted posts by Chinese diplomats. However, almost half of all retweets came from only 1% of those pages, which collectively blasted out almost 360,000 retweets, mostly in bursts separated by seconds.

Chinese diplomatic accounts in Poland, Pakistan, India, and South Africa, as well as China’s foreign ministry and its spokespeople, were among the main winners of this focused bulk interaction, which was not actually inauthentic.

Twitter later removed pro-China accounts that were involved in a variety of languages, with profile details in English, Mandarin, Spanish, Arabic, Hindi, Italian, French, Russian, Korean, Urdu, Portuguese, Thai, Swedish, Japanese, Turkish, German, and Tamil. Some appeared to act as larger cells, dedicated to amplifying diplomats in a specific area, while others appeared to function as smaller cells, dedicated to amplifying diplomats in a specific location.

This fabricated chorus accounted for a sizable portion of the interaction received by several Chinese diplomats on Twitter. From June 2020 to January 2021, more than 60% of all retweets for the Chinese embassies in Angola and Greece came from suspended accounts. Hua Chunying and Zhao Lijian, spokespeople for China’s hawkish foreign ministry, received over 20,000 retweets from Twitter-approved accounts.

SYSTEMS OF INTERNET COMMENTING

Manipulation of online dialogue is now effectively institutionalised in China. It remains to be seen how aggressive – and competitive – China would be in imposing its paradigm of public opinion guidance on Western social media, which was built on very different democratic principles such as openness, honesty, and free exchange of ideas.

The party’s online public opinion-shaping mechanisms go far beyond censorship. Budget papers for Chinese propaganda and cyberspace agencies mention cyber troops, teams of professional online commentators charged with keeping online discourse consistent with the ruling party’s interests. Universities in China proudly advertise their teams of “internet commentators” and “youth media civilization volunteers,” who are made up entirely of recruits who “heart the motherland” and serve to direct public opinion by removing negative forces and sharing positive energies online.

The operation is massive in scope. According to Ryan Fedasiuk, a research analyst at Georgetown University’s Center for Security and Emerging Technology, who analysed scores of government budget papers, university statements, and media accounts, China’s Communist Party had 20 million part-time volunteers, half of whom were professors, and 2 million paying commentators at its disposal last year to direct online debate.

According to Mareike Ohlberg, a senior fellow at the German Marshall Fund’s Asia Program, and Jessica Batke, a senior editor at ChinaFile, an online publication published by the Asia Society, for-profit organisations often contract with government departments to manage organised networks of social media pages, both human and digital, to help “guide public opinion.” They combed through thousands of Chinese government procurement notifications to find those tenders.

Although the bulk of the requests were for opinion control on domestic sites, Ohlberg told AP that an increasing amount of requests have been directed to Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube since 2017. For example, one public security bureau in a relatively small city in northeastern China decided to purchase a “smart Internet-commenting device” capable of commenting on Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube from thousands of separate accounts and IP addresses.

“This is just a natural continuation of what the group has been doing at home for a long time,” Ohlberg said. “Why will they change their model if they go international?”

China’s advance on Western social media is part of a much larger infrastructure of leverage that has influenced how Hollywood produces movies, what Western newspapers print, and how overseas Chinese-language media outlets interact with China’s massive diaspora.

According to Anne-Marie Brady, a lecturer at the University of Canterbury in New Zealand and a specialist in Chinese propaganda, people do not even know that the material they get has been presented in part by China’s ruling Communist Party.

“The propaganda machine is massive, and it has infiltrated Western social media,” she said. “It has aided in reshaping views in China.” It does not create a special optimistic picture of China, but it does create a sense of hopelessness that little can be said with what China is doing to our democracies.”

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Scientists in India are racing to research variants as the number of cases increases

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Scientists in India are racing to research variants as the number of cases increases
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A potentially dangerous form of the coronavirus discovered in India can spread more quickly. However, the country is lagging in conducting the required testing to properly monitor and understand it.

Based on preliminary research, the World Health Organization named the latest strain of the virus as a “variant of concern” on Monday, joining others that were first observed in the United Kingdom, South Africa, and Brazil but have since spread to other nations.

“We need a lot of detail about this virus variant,” said Maria Van Kerkhove, WHO’s COVID-19 technical lead. “We need more focused sequencing completed and shared in India and elsewhere so we can figure out how much of this virus is circulating.”

Viruses continuously mutate, and the increase in infections here has created more chances for new versions to develop.

However, India was slow to begin the genetic monitoring needed to determine if such modifications were occurring and if they were making the coronavirus more contagious or lethal.

Such variations must also be checked to see whether the virus is able to escape the immune system, possibly leading to reinfections or making vaccines less safe. For the time being, the WHO emphasised that COVID-19 vaccines are successful in avoiding illness and death in people afflicted with the version.

Indian scientists claim that institutional barriers and the government’s unwillingness to exchange critical data have hampered their work. India is sequencing only 1% of its total cases, and not all of the samples are being submitted to the global coronavirus genome database.

When there isn’t enough sequencing, there may be gaps, and more concerning mutations can go undetected before they are common, according to Alina Chan, a postdoctoral researcher at the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard who is monitoring global sequencing efforts.

“It has all the hallmarks of the virus that we should be concerned about,” said Ravindra Gupta, a professor of clinical microbiology at the University of Cambridge.

The new version, which was first discovered in the coastal state of Maharashtra last year, has now been observed in samples from 19 of the 27 states surveyed. Meanwhile, a version discovered in the United Kingdom has deteriorated in India over the last 45 days.

Indian health officials have cautioned that attributing the country’s rise exclusively to such variants is premature. According to experts, the expansion was accelerated by government decisions not to halt religious conventions and packed election rallies.

Dr. Gagandeep Kang, a microorganism researcher at Christian Medical College in Vellore, southern India, said researchers need to find out whether the variant will affect people who have already had COVID-19 and, if so, if it can cause serious disease.

“I don’t understand why people don’t see this as significant,” she said.

India’s sequencing attempts have been haphazard. According to Chan, the nation uploads 0.49 sequences per 1,000 cases to GISAID, a global data sharing initiative. The United States, which has its own issues of genetic monitoring, uploads about 10 cases out of 1,000, while the United Kingdom uploads about 82 cases out of 1,000.

Late last year, Indian government agencies were directed to purchase domestic raw materials wherever possible, in line with Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s aim of making India “self-sufficient.” This proved unlikely because all sequencing materials were imported, resulting in more paperwork, according to Anurag Agarwal, director of the Institute of Genomics and Integrative Biology. He said the challenges were more severe between September and December, but his lab was able to find workarounds and begin sequencing.

Other labs did not, and scientists believe it should have been when India increased its sequencing, as cases were dwindling at the time.

Even though a federal initiative began on Jan. 18, putting together 10 laboratories capable of sequencing 7,500 samples every week, real testing did not begin until mid-February due to other logistical problems, according to Dr. Shahid Jameel, a virologist who chairs the consortium’s scientific advisory group.

By then, the number of cases in India had started to rise.

According to Jameel, India sequenced approximately 20,000 samples, but only 15,000 were officially announced because others were lacking critical details. Until late last month, he added, a third of the samples submitted by states were unusable.

And now, the raging epidemic has contaminated many of the staff in the laboratories.

“Many of our labs are dealing with this issue,” he said.

Pathi contributed reporting from Bengaluru, and Associated Press authors Danica Kirka in London and Chonchui Ngashangva in New Delhi also contributed.

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Officials From the Trump administration will Testify over the Jan. 6 riot

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As two senior Trump administration officials present before Congress on Jan. 6, they prepare to justify their conduct during the Jan. 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol, with former acting Defense Secretary Christopher Miller sticking behind the decision he took that day.

According to a copy of prepared remarks received by The Associated Press, Miller would inform the House Oversight Committee on Wednesday that he was worried before the insurgency that sending troops to the building would fuel concerns of a military takeover and lead to a replay of the deadly Kent State shootings.

His testimony, the first in a series of congressional hearings on the riot, is intended to counter widespread criticism that military troops were too sluggish to arrive even when pro-Trump rioters aggressively assaulted the building and rushed inside.

Miller will be represented by former acting Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen, who will speak for the first time on the Justice Department’s involvement in the lead-up to the riot.

Miller would argue that he was adamant that the military’s presence be reduced, a stance coloured by disapproval of the violent reaction to the civil disturbances that roiled American cities months ago, as well as decades-old episodes that ended in bloodshed.

According to Miller’s prepared remarks, the Defense Department had a “highly bad record of helping domestic law enforcement,” both during civil rights and Vietnam War marches in the 1960s and 1970s, as well as the deadly shooting of four students at Kent State University by Ohio National Guard members 51 years ago.

“I was determined not to replicate these scenarios,” he states.

Miller also denies any role in the Defense Department’s reaction by former President Donald Trump, who has been chastised for failing to strongly condemn the rioters.

Miller will be the most senior Pentagon official to attend the riot hearings. So far, the meetings also included finger-pointing over missing intelligence, insufficient planning, and an inadequate law enforcement response.

The Capitol Police have been chastised for being woefully understaffed, the FBI for failing to communicate information indicating a potential “war” at the Capitol in a timely manner, and the Defense Department for an hours-long pause in getting help to the complex amid the vicious, lethal confusion depicted on television.

“Our hearing will provide the American people with the first chance to hear from top Trump Administration leaders about the devastating intelligence and security shortcomings that allowed this horrific terrorist assault on our nation’s Capitol,” said committee chair Rep. Carolyn Maloney, D-N.Y.

Rosen, for his part, is likely to reassure congress that the Justice Department “took sufficient precautions” ahead of the riot by deploying tactical and other elite forces after local police estimates suggested that 10,000 to 30,000 protesters were expected at demonstrations and protests.

Miller’s testimony would be the first detailed explanation of Pentagon conduct in months, after months of complaints that the National Guard took hours to arrive.

In his prepared remarks, he defends his opposition to a strong military response as formed in part by media “hysteria” over the potential of a military takeover or fears that the military could be used to help reverse election results.

Fearful of exacerbating those fears, as well as the risk that a soldier could be provoked into violence in a manner that could be seen as an assault on First Amendment activities, he claims he decided in the days leading up to the insurgency to deploy troops only in places away from the Capitol.

“No such thing was going to happen under my watch,” Miller continues, “but these fears, and the hysteria surrounding them, nonetheless influenced my decisions about the reasonable and selective use of our Armed Forces to assist civilian law enforcement during the Electoral College certification.” “My duty to the nation was to avoid a constitutional crisis.”

While he believes the Defense Department should not take the lead in domestic law enforcement, he believes it is critical to begin preparation talks due to concerns about a lack of cooperation and information-sharing among other departments.

Democrats have said that they want to question Miller over why the National Guard took so long to arrive amid immediate preparations for assistance. Miller claims in his prepared testimony that such complaints are unfounded, but he admits that the Guard was not rushed to the scene, which he claims was on purpose.

“This isn’t a video game where you can switch forces with the flick of a thumb, or a film that glosses over the technical difficulties and time taken to organise and synchronise with the myriad of other bodies concerned, or with compliance with the important legal standards involved with the use of those forces,” he continues.

While the timeline Miller provides in his comments largely corresponds to that given by other high-ranking officials, he stands in stark contrast to William Walker, who testified as commanding general of the D.C. National Guard about unusual Pentagon limitations that hampered his reaction. He also identified a three-hour wait between the time assistance was required and when it was delivered.

Walker has since been named sergeant-at-arms of the House, in charge of the chamber’s security.

Walker was given “all the authority he needed to complete the task,” according to Miller, and had never voiced any doubt about the powers at his disposal prior to January 6. Miller claims he ordered the deployment of 340 National Guard troops, which is the total number Walker said will be needed.

Miller says he gave his approval for the Guard to be activated at 3 p.m. The assistance did not arrive at the Capitol complex until long after 5 p.m., owing to the time-consuming nature of scheduling and preparation, according to Miller.

Miller was a White House counterterrorism advisor under Trump before being named acting defence secretary in the final months of his presidency. He took over for Mark Esper, who was sacked as defence secretary after the election for being deemed insufficiently obedient by Trump.

Miller’s sudden hiring sparked fears that he was in position to serve as a Trump ally. Maloney hinted at a fixation on Trump during the hearing on Wednesday, saying his “racist rhetoric angered and incited the angry mob.”

Miller, on the other hand, says in his opening speech that he thinks Trump “encouraged the protesters,” but refuses to say if Trump is to blame. He recalls a meeting on Jan. 5 in which Trump, inspired by a crowd of supporters at a rally that day, told him 10,000 troops would be expected the next day.

“The call lasted less than thirty seconds, and I did not answer substantively or elaborate. “I interpreted his remark to suggest that a significant force will be required to restore order the next day,” Miller says.

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