Connect with us

News

Tensions flare as Chinese flights near Taiwan intensify

Avatar Of Rajesh Khanna

Published

on

Tensions Flare As Chinese Flights Near Taiwan Intensify
google news

By HUIZHONG WU and DAVID RISING

TAIPEI, Taiwan (AP) — With record numbers of military flights near Taiwan over the last week, China has been showing a new intensity and military sophistication as it steps up its harassment of the island it claims as its own and asserts its territorial ambitions in the region.

China’s People’s Liberation Army flew 56 planes off the southwest coast of Taiwan on Monday, setting a new record and capping four days of sustained pressure involving 149 flights. All were in international airspace, but prompted Taiwanese defense forces to scramble in response and raised fears that any misstep could provoke an unintended escalation.

The sorties came as China, with growing diplomatic and military power, faces greater pushback from countries in the region and an increasing naval presence from the United States and other Western democracies in Asia as Taiwan pleads for more global support and recognition.

The U.S. called China’s latest actions “risky” and “destabilizing,” while China responded that the U.S. selling weapons to Taiwan and its ships navigating the Taiwan Strait were provocative.

At the same time as the flights, the U.S. stepped up naval maneuvers in the Indo-Pacific with its allies, challenging Beijing’s territorial claims in critical waterways.

Taiwanese Defense Minister Chiu Kuo-cheng told legislators Wednesday that the situation “is the most severe in the 40 years since I’ve enlisted.”

While most agree that war is not imminent, Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen warned that more is at stake if Beijing makes good on past threats to seize the island by force if necessary.

“If Taiwan were to fall, the consequences would be catastrophic for regional peace and the democratic alliance system,” she wrote in an impassioned op-ed in Foreign Affairs magazine published Tuesday. “It would signal that in today’s global contest of values, authoritarianism has the upper hand over democracy.”

China regularly flies military aircraft into Taiwan’s “air defense identification zone,” international airspace that Taiwan counts as a buffer in its defense strategy, although previous flights have usually involved a handful of planes at most.

Perhaps more significant than the number of planes was the constitution of the group, with fighters, bombers and airborne early warning aircraft, said Euan Graham, a defense analyst with the International Institute for Strategic Studies in Singapore.

“That’s the level of sophistication — it looks like a strike package, and that’s part of the step up in pressure,” he said. “This is not a couple of fighters coming close and then going straight back after putting one wing across the median; this is a much more purposeful maneuver.”

Controlling Taiwan and its airspace is key to China’s military strategy, with the area where the most recent sorties took place also leading to the west Pacific and the South China Sea.

The latest maneuvers bring the total number of flights to more than 815 as of Monday since the Taiwanese government started publicly releasing the numbers a little more than a year ago.

China has been rapidly improving and strengthening its military, and the most recent flights demonstrate a greater level of technical expertise and power, said Chen-Yi Tu, a researcher at the Institute for National Defense and Security Research in Taiwan.

It’s a marked contrast from 20, 30 years ago, when Chinese forces couldn’t refuel in the air, or fly across the water, said Oriana Skylar Mastro, a fellow at Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies at Stanford University and non-resident senior fellow at the American Enterprise Institute in Washington, D.C.

“I think China is trying to remind the U.S. and Taiwan that this is not then, that they have options,” she said. “They can do what they want, that they won’t be deterred.”

At the same time, many democracies have been increasingly vocal in their support of Taiwan and have stepped up naval operations in the area.

As China was conducting its most recent flights, 17 ships from six navies — the U.S., Britain, Japan, Netherlands, Canada and New Zealand — including three aircraft carriers and a Japanese helicopter carrier — carried out joint maneuvers off the Japanese island of Okinawa, northeast of Taiwan, meant to show their commitment to a “free and open Indo-Pacific.”

A few days earlier, the British frigate HMS Richmond transited through the Taiwan Strait, announcing its presence on Twitter and angering China, which condemned the move as a “meaningless display of presence with an insidious intention.”

The international actions are an attempt to counter China’s frequent claim that its own actions are in response to American moves, and demonstrate that democracies intend to defend established maritime laws and norms, Graham said.

“When the U.K. sends a ship through the Taiwan Strait for the first time since 2008 and it sailed down the median line, the point that it’s making is that they know China knows where that line is,” he said. “In order for the status quo to be meaningful, it has to be upheld and the most emphatic way to do that is to physically demonstrate with a government asset like a warship.”

Australia, which also spoke out against China’s recent flights, last month announced a deal with the U.S. and Britain to obtain nuclear-powered submarines, which was seen as a strong statement it planned to play a greater role.

And Japan, which has long been cautious with its relations with China, a key trading partner, now considers the country a security threat amid Beijing’s increasingly assertive activity in the regional seas and around the Taiwan Strait. New Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida said dialogue with China is important but Japan should also team up with like-minded democracies and step up its security alliance with the U.S. and other partners while Tokyo also strengthens its defense capabilities.

“We are seeing a slow emergence of some sort of coalition of democracies in the region that are trying to come together to build some sort of mechanism to respond to Chinese behavior in the region,” said J. Michael Cole, a Taipei-based senior fellow with Global Taiwan Institute in Washington, D.C.

Under longstanding policy, the United States provides political and military support for Taiwan, but does not explicitly promise to defend it from a Chinese attack.

Still, as the U.S. increases its military activities in the Indo-Pacific region, the Chinese response has been to increase its own, said Yue Gang, a retired Chinese army colonel and Beijing-based military commentator.

“The Biden administration has been increasing military deterrence against China, not only by dispatching many warships and warplanes, but also showcasing its allies,” he said. “One of the possibilities is that the mainland hopes to send a signal it will not be misjudged as weak.”

The Chinese flights into the Taiwanese defense buffer zone have forced Taiwan to scramble its own aircraft and anti-aircraft missile batteries, wearing down their readiness and reducing their capabilities, Yue said.

“Every time a warplane takes off, the engine life is reduced to some extent,” he said.

In addition to keeping Taiwan on edge, the sorties also help the Chinese pilots keep their edge, and could eventually help give them an element of surprise “if the scenario is to eventually use hard power to resolve their unification claim over Taiwan,” Graham said.

“It’s hard to know if exercise 39 or exercise 57 is the one that isn’t an exercise,” he said.

For the moment, however, most agree that is not the immediate goal.

“It’s more signaling and psychological warfare and a warning to the U.S. to not be so close to Taiwan,” Mastro said.

___

Rising reported from Bangkok.

google news

News

Chicago Bears sign kicker Michael Badgley with Cairo Santos still questionable for the Week 4 road game

Avatar Of Rajesh Khanna

Published

on

Chicago Bears Sign Kicker Michael Badgley With Cairo Santos Still Questionable For The Week 4 Road Game
google news

The Chicago Bears will have a new kicker for Sunday’s Week 4 road game against the New York Giants.

The team announced it signed Michael Badgley to the practice squad Saturday morning and he will be elevated to the gameday roster as Cairo Santos did not travel with the team.

Santos missed practices Thursday and Friday for personal reasons and the team designated him as questionable for the game. He was ruled out before the team’s early-afternoon flight to New Jersey.

The Bears were prepared for the possibility, holding a tryout Friday afternoon at Halas Hall that Badgley won. He beat out Brian Johnson and Josh Lambo.

The team announced more roster moves as well. Running back Darrynton Evans has been elevated from the practice squad to the active roster, while defensive end Andre Anthony goes on practice squad reserve/injured.

Santos made field goals from 47 and 50 yards before hitting the 30-yarder on the final play of a 23-20 win over the Houston Texans last Sunday at Soldier Field. He’s 4-for-4 on field goals for the season and rebounded from two missed extra points during a driving rainstorm in the Week 1 victory over the San Francisco 49ers.

He set a franchise record in 2020 when he made 30-of-32 field goal attempts (93.8%), earning a $9 million, three-year contract. Santos followed it up by going 26-of-30 on field goals in 2021, and has connected on 89.7% of his field goals since taking over for Eddy Pineiro at the start of 2020.

Badgley, 27, was most recently with the Jacksonville Jaguars in August. He had a tryout earlier this week for the Kansas City Chiefs. He made 18 of 22 field goals in 12 games with the Indianapolis Colts and one with the Tennessee Titans last season.

He spent the first three years of his career with the Los Angeles Chargers but left after the 2020 season when he made 24 of 33 field goals.

()

google news
Continue Reading

News

Heat’s Erik Spoelstra on so many wanting to start, ‘You need ambition’

Avatar Of Rajesh Khanna

Published

on

Heat’s Erik Spoelstra On So Many Wanting To Start, ‘You Need Ambition’
google news

Ask Miami Heat coach Erik Spoelstra about more than half his roster believing they should be starters and he smiles the wryest of smiles.

“I don’t mind it in terms of players’ ambition,” he said, with the Heat breaking camp Saturday after five days at the Baha Mar resort. “We should have a lot of players that feel like they can start. And we probably do have eight to 12 starters.

“Either they can start on this team right now or they can start on another team or at some point they’ve been starters. Or could start with a little bit more development a year or two or three years down the line.”

The givens in the first five are Jimmy Butler, Bam Adebayo and Kyle Lowry. The contenders for the other two berths are Caleb Martin, Max Strus, Tyler Herro, Victor Oladipo and perhaps even Duncan Robinson, Omer Yurtseven or Haywood Highsmith. About the only members of the 14-player standard roster not directly in the conversation are Gabe Vincent, Dewayne Dedmon, 42-year-old mentor Udonis Haslem and 19-year-old neophyte Nikola Jovic.

“I think you need talent in this league, you need ambition,” Spoelstra said. “I want to leverage all of that.

“At some point, to be a part of something special, you have to embrace that concept of sacrificing and sharing in the game.”

So, yes, sacrifice is back as a core tenet.

“It’ll be really important for this team to understand that each guy will have to sacrifice a little bit to be able to unlock the talent that we have,” Spoelstra said. “Once you embrace that, all of this is bigger than each one of us, and you can really connect the dots on the concept, you can find more purpose and gratification out of great team basketball. So we’re laying that foundation right now.

“The magic happens when everybody can get to a place where you’re vulnerable and giving up something for the betterment of the team. We have a lot of firepower, have a lot of talent, have a lot of defensive versatility. There’s a lot of encouraging things about our roster makeup and our depth. And we fully intend on using all of that. How that’s going to play out right now? I don’t know, but I do like the possibilities.”

Closing time

With the Heat wrapping up their stay in New Providence, with Saturday including a youth clinic at the makeshift courts at the resort’s convention center, Haslem summed up the experience.

“A great way to finish my last training camp, in paradise,” said the veteran power forward who is retiring after this 20th Heat season. “Well loved, always much love when I come here in the Bahamas. Just like being in Miami for me. The love is unmatched and I appreciate it a lot.”

Haslem said camp had a different feel, with 14 players returning from last season.

“We’re ahead of the game, because we had so much time last year. We didn’t lose very much,” he said, with only P.J. Tucker and Markieff Morris departing. “We pretty much know everybody. Health is always a major concern, but we’re bonding, we’re enjoying it, we’re here in the Bahamas, paradise, so it’s been a great trip.”

Haslem said he made an effort to leave the resort to sample local fare, and appreciated that teammates were able to take their minds off the game.

“Great week,” he said. “A little bit of rain, but it held on pretty good. So the young guys were able to go on the water slides, some of the older guys able to get some golf. It was a good balance of hard work and a mental break and getting away.”

But that doesn’t mean there also wasn’t a physical toll.

“This week was a crash course for the body,” he said. “Next week, I’ll be better.”

()

google news
Continue Reading

News

Mets bats need to wake up in order to clinch NL East crown

Avatar Of Rajesh Khanna

Published

on

Mets Bats Need To Wake Up In Order To Clinch Nl East Crown
google news

ATLANTA — The Mets bats have gone cold and they’re running out of time to heat them up.

They failed to capitalize on a late rally Friday night in a 5-2 loss to the Atlanta Braves. They needed a late rally to beat the Miami Marlins on Wednesday and they got no rallies in the first game of that series.

But this trend goes back even further. A shutout in Milwaukee last week. A sweep at the hands of the Chicago Cubs earlier in September and only five runs over three games against the Washington Nationals.

Overall, the numbers haven’t been terrible. The Mets actually own the second-highest OPS in the league over the month of September (.770). But there have been some key losses in which the offense didn’t really show up, much like the one Friday night at Truist Park.

The question is whether or not this is indicative of what’s to come in the last five games of the season and in the postseason. Will it cost them the NL East and force them into a Wild Card round?

The problems started when Starling Marte was injured earlier this month. The All-Star outfielder was hitting .292 this season with an .814 OPS and 16 home runs before he got hurt. But Marte is not exactly the engine that makes the Mets offense go. Missing one player like that shouldn’t crater the rest of the offense.

“Without Starling here, we have to force some things we might not normally have to,” manager Buck Showalter said.

The lack of production at the DH position doesn’t help either. With the Mets facing two right-handers this weekend we can probably expect to see Daniel Vogelbach back in the lineup, but he’s had some questionable at-bats as of late. Darin Ruf was placed on the injured list with a neck strain Friday and his struggles have been magnified as the team’s offensive woes have continued.

The Mets don’t seem to have an answer as to why Ruf, who was brought in to hit against left-handed pitching, has been so bad in New York (.152 with a .413 OPS).

“Could be a number of variables,” general manager Billy Eppler said Friday at Truist Park. “Could be timing, could be something material in the swing. Could be a small sample, could be a number of things. So it’s up to us to uncover and that’s some of the questions that we are asking.”

Francisco Alvarez was called up to take Ruf’s spot on the roster. The 20-year-old catcher is one of the top prospects in baseball, even ranked No. 1 overall by MLB Pipeline, and has been absolutely crushing left-handed pitching in Triple-A. He wasn’t the hero the Mets needed Friday night, but they needed much more than a rookie making his debut to come through with so much on the line.

Alvarez faced Kenley Jansen in a key moment in the ninth, with the bases loaded and one out. He struck out on three pitches — all cutters — fouling one off and swinging through two of them. This might not be the same Jansen as five years ago, but that cutter still cuts.

Eppler and Showalter talked about not overwhelming him in his major league debut, but they kept him in because they liked the matchup against Jansen. Showalter called Jansen a “neutral split,” meaning the right-hander has similar results against right- and left-handed hitters, but lefties have had a better results against him this season (left-handed hitters have a .725 OPS against Jansen, while right-handers have a .550 OPS).

“He’s getting close, we thought, on some balls and he’ll learn from it,” Showalter said. “He’s an impressive young man we’re glad he’s on our side.”

So, the Mets need a hero. Who will it be?

()

google news
Continue Reading

News

Zack Britton can’t make it all the way back to help Yankees in the playoffs

Avatar Of Rajesh Khanna

Published

on

Zack Britton Can’t Make It All The Way Back To Help Yankees In The Playoffs
google news

Zack Britton’s comeback has fallen short. The left-hander who exited Friday night’s game with “arm fatigue” was placed on the injured list Saturday and likely will not pitch for the Yankees again. The 34-year-old had hoped to come back from 2021 Tommy John surgery to pitch in the postseason.

“I think basically it’s just something that we’re kind of running out of time here,” Yankees manager Aaron Boone said, “and having a little bit of fatigue last night, it’s like one of those things you don’t want to power through and reach for more and then do some damage as you’re coming back.

“But he’s in a good spot heading into the offseason.”

Britton had the updated version of Tommy John surgery, which places a protective brace or sleeve around the ulnar collateral ligament. That had him and the Yankees hoping he could make a faster comeback. He made his big league debut this season on Sept. 24, just 12 and a half months after the surgery.

‘I’m just appreciative of how hard he’s worked to get to this point and to give himself a chance,” Boone said. “The rehab is going really well. I feel like a lot of things are  lined up. It’s just that final sharpness and at this point in the season just got up against it there. But, yeah, he worked his tail off to put himself in this position and give himself an opportunity and certainly admire that.”

Britton is in the final year of his four-year, $53 million deal with the Yankees. An elite closer with the Orioles, the Yankees acquired him at the trade deadline in 2018. Britton made 136 appearances for the Bombers, mostly setting up for Aroldis Chapman, and pitched to a 2.75 ERA with 15 saves.

Britton made it very clear when he returned that he was not worried about pitching to prove he was healthy for another contract.

“I mean it doesn’t impact my future. I’m healthy. I know if I’m healthy, the future for me will be fine. The reason why I kind of push things is because I want to pitch this year for this team to help them win and for no other reason,” Britton said when he returned. “So there’s no benefit for me personally, other than the fact that maybe I can have an impact on a World Series championship team. That’s really the only goal for me at this stage of my career. I’ve gotten my contract. I am 34 years old. My reasons are much different now than when I was younger. I want [a] ring, that’s why I pushed this hard to come back and be an option for the team.”

With Clay Holmes down because of rotator cuff inflammation, a doubleheader on Tuesday and rain putting the Yankees final two games of the regular season at Yankee Stadium in doubt, the Bombers just needed an arm. They called up Jacob Barnes, a veteran of parts of seven seasons in the big leagues with the Brewers, Royals, Mets, Angels and Tigers and a 6.10 ERA this season.

“He’s got good stuff. Good arm,” Boone said. “We  just wanted that coverage today, with what we’re entering into as far as doubleheaders coming up and some roster situations.”

MONTAS MOVES

Frankie Montas was on the field throwing for the first time since he was shut down earlier this month. The right-hander played a very limited catch at about 25 to 40 feet, another indication that he will not be pitching at least in the first round of the playoffs.

And when he does pitch in the playoffs, it very well could be out of the bullpen, Boone confirmed Saturday.

“I don’t know about the Division Series. I don’t know if that’s gonna be in play,” Boone said when asked if there was enough time to ramp him back up.  “We feel like there’s time to where he could get to a point where he could be an option for us. Maybe not in the Division Series, but more likely beyond.”

Montas is on the injured list with right shoulder inflammation, the same issue that had him miss time in Oakland before the Yankees traded for him. The Bombers targeted Montas specifically for the playoff with his past success against potential playoff foes the Astros and Rays. He struggled once he got here, however. Montas has a 6.35 ERA in eight starts with the Bombers.

The Yankees dealt minor league pitching prospects Luis Medina and Ken Waldichuk along with J.P. Sears, who had already contributed to the big league club, for Montas and reliever Lou Trivino (who coincidentally is the only one of the Yankees’ deadline acquisitions who has not been injured).

()

google news
Continue Reading

News

Gophers star tailback Mo Ibrahim out vs. Purdue

Avatar Of Rajesh Khanna

Published

on

Gophers Star Tailback Mo Ibrahim Out Vs. Purdue
google news

The Gophers had a big, surprise absence during its Homecoming game against Purdue on Saturday.

Star running back Mo Ibrahim was dressed in uniform and participated in some of pregame warmups but did not play against the Boilermakers at Huntington Bank Stadium. Instead, Trey Potts and Bryce Williams stepped into bigger roles.

Ibrahim appeared to injure his left ankle during the 34-7 win over Michigan State last week, but returned to the game in East Lansing, Mich. He also practiced during the week, head coach P.J. Fleck said on KFXN-FM show Tuesday.

Ibrahim had 89 carries for 567 yards and eight touchdowns in four games this season.

google news
Continue Reading

News

Your Money: Coming fourth quarter offers opportunities, changes

Avatar Of Rajesh Khanna

Published

on

These Are Portraits Of Bruce Helmer And Peg Webb, Financial Advisers At Wealth Enhancement Group And Pioneer Press Business Columnists
google news
Bruce Helmer and Peg Webb

This has been a crazy year for the economy and markets, with inflation rising as the highest rate in 40 years. But as we advise our clients, you need to control what you can control and forget everything else. By sticking to a well-conceived plan, you remove a lot of market-related stress from your decision making. This quarter we’re focusing on tips for increasing your savings, planning for long-term care and giving to charity.

INCREASING YOUR SAVINGS

The IRS usually announces changes to tax brackets, 401(k) plan contribution limits, estate- and gift-tax thresholds and Social Security payouts in mid-October. Since these limits are indexed to inflation, the adjustments could be the biggest in decades. They’ll affect your 2023 taxes in the following areas:

Lower tax liability. An odd gift of inflation may actually be lower tax bills. Most Americans’ income will be taxed at lower rates next year, when the thresholds for income-tax brackets and the standard deduction will be raised. The top federal income-tax bracket could climb $50,000 for married couples next year. The 37% bracket may kick in at $693,750 (couples) and $578,125 (individuals). Consensus estimates are that other tax-bracket break points will rise about 7% from 2022 levels, more than double the previous year’s increase. Unless you expect your wages to rise significantly higher than inflation, you may pay less in taxes for 2023, and be able to sock away more savings.

Retirement plan contributions. Maximum contribution amounts for a traditional or Roth IRA are expected to increase to $6,500 for 2023, up from $6,000 (where they’ve been stuck since 2019). According to benefits consultant Milliman, maximum contribution amount for a 401(k) or similar employer-sponsored plan could rise from $20,500 this year to $22,500 in 2023, with catch-up contributions for workers aged 50+ bumping up from $6,500 to at least $7,500. This is a good time to consider increasing your deferrals during your company’s open enrollment season, especially if you’re not already taking advantage of the maximum employer matching contribution.

Estate and gift taxes. Lifetime estate and gift-tax thresholds could increase next year. An individual’s federal estate-tax exclusion amount may increase from $12.06 million this year to $12.92 million in 2023 (nearly $26 million for couples, allowing them to shelter nearly $2 million more from estate and gift taxes). In addition, the annual limit on tax-free gifts could rise from $16,000 to $17,000. This could benefit wealthy families, who will be able to give away more without gift or estate tax consequences.

Social Security COLA. Social Security is likely to see the biggest increase in benefits payouts from mandated cost-of-living adjustments (COLA). Social Security payouts are expected to be 8.7% higher in 2023 — the largest bump in benefits in decades.

PLANNING FOR LONG-TERM CARE

November is National Long-Term Care Awareness Month. About 60% of us, at some point in our lives, will need some help with things like getting dressed, driving to appointments or making meals. Fully 78% of adults receiving care at home rely on family and friends as their only source of care and the average caregiver is a 46-year-old woman, who spends 21 hours a week caring for a loved one.

Many people think Medicare or Medicaid will pick up the tab for this, but this isn’t the case. That’s why considering the possibility of needing long-term care (LTC) at some point in your life is a key element of financial planning. LTC insurance (LTCI) is designed to provide funds for you to live on when you’re not able to care for yourself. More specifically, LTCI may help keep you from having to go into a nursing home. Indeed, some policies allow you to pay a family member to provide care in your home, giving you more control and choice over the type of care you wish to receive.

There are many types of policies, designed for multiple purposes, such as supplementing your retirement, paying for in-home or nursing home care, providing a death benefit to your loved ones. One caveat: LTCI tends to be expensive and complicated. Talk to a financial adviser before you buy.

GIFTING/GIVING TO CHARITY

As the end of the year approaches, you may want to share your good fortune with the people and causes you care about. Giving cash is your simplest option. However, if you are giving to family members, you need to consider tax implications. Lifetime exemptions are higher than they have ever been, but if future tax laws reduce that exemption amount, it could affect your gifting plans.

Gifts to charity. You can give cash to charities and still claim a deduction. For any gifts over $250, you must have a written acknowledgement in order to earn a deduction. You also have the option to gift appreciated securities that may have some imbedded long-term cap gains. You can donate these shares to a nonprofit and you and the charity will both avoid paying a capital gains tax. But if you are thinking about gifting stocks that have lost money, it might be smarter to sell them and donate the cash.

Donor Advised Fund (DAF). A DAF is a good option if you know you want to give to a 501(c)(3) charity, but aren’t sure which one, or want to make a gift anonymously. You get an immediate tax deduction for any assets you transfer to the fund, and you free your estate of any cap gains those assets have accumulated or will accumulate in the future.

The opinions voiced in this material are for general information only and are not intended to provide specific advice or recommendations for any individual. Wealth Enhancement Group and LPL Financial do not provide legal advice or tax services. Please consult your legal advisor or tax advisor regarding your specific situation.

Bruce Helmer and Peg Webb are financial advisers at Wealth Enhancement Group and co-hosts of “Your Money” on KLKS 100.1 FM on Sunday mornings. Email Bruce and Peg at [email protected] Securities offered through LPL Financial, member FINRA/SIPC. Advisory services offered through Wealth Enhancement Advisory Services, LLC, a registered investment advisor. Wealth Enhancement Group and Wealth Enhancement Advisory Services are separate entities from LPL Financial.

 

google news
Continue Reading

Trending