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Trump signs Hong Kong sanctions bill in blow for China – POLITICO

Trump also announced that he had signed an executive order ending U.S. preferential treatment of Hong Kong. It follows up on his announcement in May that he would take steps to revoke the former colony’s status as a customs and travel territory separate from the rest of China.

But an event that was billed as a press conference focused on China quickly devolved into a standard stump speech with Trump railing on a whole host of issues, including former Vice President Joe Biden’s record on China and Biden’s unity platform, which was crafted with former presidential contender Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.).

“Joe Biden and President Obama freely allowed China to pillage our factories, plunder our communities and steal our most precious secrets. And I have stopped it largely,” Trump said.

In his hourlong remarks before he took a few questions from reporters, he also went on criticizing the push to remove Confederate statues and his opposition to mail-in voting.

Tensions between the world’s two largest economies have been especially strained in recent months over Trump’s criticism on China’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic, as well as China’s treatment of the Uighur Muslims and the unclear future of the phase one trade deal.

Trump has repeatedly slammed China over its lack of transparency about the virus. Last week, he indicated that the chances of negotiating a phase two trade deal with China were slim because of the pandemic, telling reporters that the U.S. relationship with China had been “severely damaged.”

In response to a reporter’s question, Trump said he does not have plans to speak with Chinese President Xi Jinping after the latest China action.

The new law, which the Senate passed just before heading out of town for the Fourth of July recess, directs the Treasury Department to identify individuals and financial firms that enable the Chinese government to carry out the new security law. Under the bill, those entities would be subject to sanctions, including visa limitations on senior executives and restrictions on dollar transactions.

A spokesperson for the Chinese Foreign Ministry said China “deplores and rejects” the sanctions bill in a news conference prior to its passage, and warned that attempts to thwart the new security law would be “doomed to fail.”

The Hong Kong Autonomy Act, which received unanimous support in the House and Senate, is the second bill targeting China that Trump has signed into law in the past month, after signing legislation that would pave the way for sanctions of Chinese officials responsible for the country’s crackdown on Uighur Muslims.

It remains to be seen if Trump will fully implement the sanctions. The Trump administration has declined to carry through on several mandatory sanctions over the years, including ones targeting Russia for its interference in the 2016 presidential election.

Trump, for example, signed into law the recent legislation that sanctions Chinese officials tied to the detention and torture of the Uighurs. But in an accompanying signing statement, the president made clear he would treat a key provision as “advisory and non-binding.”

“He must impose the sanctions included in our bill. That is the only way to ensure that those involved in the crackdown on Hong Kong will feel the full consequences of their actions,” said Sen. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), who sponsored the bill with Sen. Pat Toomey (R-Pa.).

Still, there’s been a long list of actions against China in recent months tied to its treatment of Hong Kong.

Last week, the Trump administration announced sanctions on three Chinese Communist Party officials over its repression of Uighur Muslims, an ethnic majority in northwest China, and Beijing leveled corresponding sanctions at U.S. lawmakers on Monday.

The Trump administration also announced late last month that it would halt exports of U.S.-origin defense equipment to Hong Kong and take steps to impose new restrictions on shipments of dual-use technologies because of China’s actions to restrict Hong Kong’s autonomy.

In May, Trump said that his administration would take steps to revoke Hong Kong’s preferential treatment as a separate customs and travel territory apart from the rest of China.

Chinese officials have denied that they intend to eliminate Hong Kong’s limited self rule under the “one country, two systems” principle that has guided relations between Beijing and Hong Kong for more than two decades.

But lawmakers on both sides of the aisle have said China’s new law, which sets up parallel police and legal systems for the city that are loyal to Beijing and not accountable to local authorities, erodes Hong Kong’s autonomy.

The Chinese law “signals the death of the one country, two systems principle,” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said earlier this month.

Caitlin Oprysko contributed to this report.

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Trump signs exec order on White House Hispanic Prosperity Initiative – Fox News

Trump signs exec order on White House Hispanic Prosperity Initiative – Fox News
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Governor signs historic bill to remove Confederate symbol from Mississippi flag – The Guardian

Lawmakers have seen increasing pressure to change the flag amid a nationwide reckoning with systematic racism





Mississippi state employees Willie Townsend, left, and Joe Brown raise the state flag over the Capitol grounds.







Mississippi state employees Willie Townsend, left, and Joe Brown raise the state flag over the Capitol grounds.
Photograph: Rogelio V Solis/Associated Press

Mississippi has officially retired the last state flag in the US with the Confederate battle emblem, a racist symbol that has served as a source of division for generations.

Republican governor Tate Reeves signed a historic bill withdrawing the state’s 126-year-old flag on Tuesday.

“This is not a political moment to me but a solemn occasion to lead our Mississippi family to come together, to be reconciled, and to move on,” Reeves said in a statement. “We are a resilient people defined by our hospitality. We are a people of great faith. Now, more than ever, we must lean on that faith, put our divisions behind us, and unite for a greater good.”


Mississippi flag comes down after vote to remove Confederate emblem – video

Mississippi lawmakers have faced increasing pressure to change the flag, which features the Confederate battle emblem – a red field topped by a blue X with 13 white stars, amid a nationwide reckoning with systematic racism.

On Sunday a coalition of legislators passed a bill removing the state’s flag, and calling for a commission to design a new one, which voters will be asked to approve in the 3 November election.

The move capped days of emotional debate and decades of effort by Black lawmakers and others to remove the rebel emblem, arguing it cannot represent a state where 38% of the population is Black. White supremacist lawmakers placed the symbol on the Mississippi flag in 1894, – thirty years after the civil war.

Mississippi voters chose to keep the flag in a 2001 statewide election, with supporters saying they saw it as a symbol of southern heritage. But since then, a growing number of cities and all the state’s public universities have abandoned it.

In 2015, the state’s Republican House speaker Philip Gunn endorsed the idea of changing the state flag after a white supremacist massacred nine Black parishioners in Charleston. After it was revealed that the gunman’s manifesto contained images of the Confederate battle flag, South Carolina took down the one that was displayed on statehouse grounds.

Still, the issue was broadly considered too volatile for legislators in Mississippi to touch until the police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis set off weeks of sustained protests against racial injustice, followed by calls to take down Confederate symbols.

A groundswell of young activists, college athletes and leaders from business, religion, education and sports called on Mississippi to make this change, finally providing the momentum for legislators to vote. Before the governor signed the bill Tuesday, state employees raised and lowered several of the flags on a pole outside the Capitol.

The idea faced resistance up until the end. Republican state senator Chris McDaniel said changing the flag was a challenge to the founding values of the country, and warned that the American flag would be next.

Democratic representative Edward Blackmon Jr, who is Black, argued that the state flag, “ought to be something that we all feel a sense of pride that when we see it, we know that that’s about us. Not just some of us.”

Reeves said on Tuesday: “The people of Mississippi, Black and white, and young and old, can be proud of a banner that puts our faith front and center. We can unite under it. We can move forward together.”

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Trump signs order prioritizing job skills over college degree in government hiring – USA TODAY

, USA TODAY
Published 12:14 p.m. ET June 26, 2020 | Updated 3:29 p.m. ET June 26, 2020

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President Donald Trump visited a Wisconsin shipyard on Thursday to emphasize job growth and reviving an economy hammered by the coronavirus. (June 25)

AP Domestic

WASHINGTON – A college degree will no longer give Americans a leg up when seeking some jobs with the federal government.

President Donald Trump signed an executive order on Friday that will overhaul the government’s hiring practices so that a job applicant’s skills will be given priority over a college degree.

Administration officials say the shift will allow the government to hire a more inclusive workforce based on skill instead of a person’s education level.

“This will ensure that we’re able to hire based on talent and expand our universe to qualified candidates and ensure a more equitable hiring process,” Ivanka Trump, the president’s daughter and senior advisor, told reporters on Friday.

Ivanka Trump is co-chair of the American Workforce Policy Advisory Board, which was created in 2018 and tasked with recommending ways to improve job training. The president signed the order during the board’s meeting on Friday.

“The federal government will no longer be narrowly focused on where you went to school, but the skills and talents that you bring to the job,” Trump said.

The federal government is the nation’s largest employer with 2.1 million civilian workers.

Jobless benefits: Think that extra $600 in unemployment benefits will last until the end of July? Think again.

Ivanka Trump said the new hiring practice will show that the government is leading by example as it tries to recruit and retain the best and brightest workers. She and other administration officials have pushed to increase opportunities for apprenticeships and have promoted such training and vocational education as alternatives to traditional two-year or four-year college degree programs.

The shift in hiring protocols will recognize the value of learning regardless of whether it occurs on the job or in the classroom, said Brooke Rollins, acting director of the White House Domestic Policy Council, which oversees the president’s domestic agenda.

The government is not eliminating the college requirement entirely but instead will stress skills in jobs where having a degree is less important. Two-thirds of Americans do not have a college degree.

A college or graduate degree is necessary to work in many occupations, but the need for educational credentials is less certain for many other fields, said Michael Rigas, acting director of the Office of Personnel Management.

Jobless rate soars: Unemployment in Florida hits record high, but peak may be near

Trump’s executive order directs federal agencies to shift from vetting job candidates based largely on their educational credentials and written questionnaires and move toward using assessment methods that will more directly determine whether they possess the knowledge and skills to do the job, Rigas said.

The government also will overhaul job qualification standards in cases where they are limiting opportunity for those with diverse backgrounds, Rigas said

“The federal government should welcome job seekers with needed skills, regardless of how they acquired them,” he said.

Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, the workforce advisory board’s other co-chair, said the need for skills training and apprenticeships is as great as it was before the coronavirus pandemic forced millions of people out of work, pushing the national unemployment rate above 13% in May.

“Americans are eager to get to work but they need our help,” Ross said.

Michael Collins covers the White House. Reach him on Twitter @mcollinsNEWS.

Contributing: The Associated Press

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