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Pompeo warned

Pompeo warned State employees against participating in partisan political activities while traveling abroad – CBS News

Washington — Secretary of State Mike Pompeo warned State Department employees in a July cable that they should not be engaging in “any partisan political activity” tied to a campaign, political party or political group and should refrain from partaking in “partisan political activity” while abroad. 

News of the directive comes as Pompeo is set to address the second night of the Republican National Convention in remarks that were taped in Jerusalem. His speaking slot comes in the middle of a five-day swing through the Middle East and Africa.

The secretary of state’s participation in the convention has sounded alarm bells among former diplomats and congressional Democrats, as previous secretaries of state have refrained from participating in the party gatherings.

In the July 24 memo from Pompeo to diplomatic and consular posts regarding political activities, which was circulated by the Democratic-led House Foreign Affairs Committee on Monday, the secretary of state wrote that presidential and political appointees, as well as career Senior Executive Service officials “may not engage in any partisan political activity in concert with a partisan campaign, political party, or partisan political group, even on personal time and outside of the federal workplace.”

Pompeo’s also reiterated to State Department employees that its longstanding policy “is that U.S. citizen employees and family members may not engage in partisan political activity while posted or on [temporary duty] abroad, even on personal time.”

“Certain restrictions on political activities apply to all employees,” Pompeo said in the cable. “This includes prohibitions on personal fundraising for a candidate in a partisan election, using one’s official position or official resources for partisan political purposes, or engaging in partisan political activity while on duty or in the federal workplace.”

Pompeo also cited in his cable a February 2020 email from Deputy Secretary of State Stephen Biegun regarding political activities for State Department employees. In the email, obtained by Politico, Biegun directed employees to review legal memos from the Office of the Legal Adviser, including one from December stating that “Senate-confirmed presidential appointees may not even attend a political party convention or convention-related event.”

House Foreign Affairs Chairman Eliot Engel, a Democrat from New York, chastised Pompeo for violating his own restrictions on participation in political activities by speaking at the Republican National Convention.

“Once again, the rules go out the window for Secretary Pompeo when they get in the way of serving his political interests and Donald Trump,” Engel said in a statement. “Mr. Pompeo should show real respect for American law, diplomacy and diplomats, and should follow his own guidance, cancel the speech, and watch the RNC from his hotel room after the workday is done.”

Pompeo, however, appears to have no plans to call off his speech, as he tweeted from his personal account Tuesday that “President Trump has ensured the safety of America — and SECURED our many FREEDOMS, which is the cornerstone of this great nation.”

“I look forward to sharing with you how the President has delivered on that mission TONIGHT!” he said.

Ronna McDaniel, chairwoman of the Republican National Convention, also defended Pompeo’s appearance at the convention, telling “Face the Nation” on Sunday that it’s “appropriate” for the secretary of state to highlight Mr. Trump’s foreign policy record.

“The programming, the staging, everything that we’re doing will be paid for by the Republican National Committee and the campaign,” McDaniel said, adding the Republicans are “not using taxpayer dollars to pay for our convention.”

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Middleton warned

Kate Middleton warned Prince Harry to move with caution while dating Meghan Markle – Geo News

Kate Middleton warned Prince Harry to move with caution while dating Meghan Markle

There was a time when Kate Middleton confronted Prince Harry about the concerns pertaining to Meghan Markle back when they were dating, claims new book Royals at War: The Untold Story of Harry and Meghan’s Shocking Split with the House of Windsor.

Penned by investigative journalists Dylan Howard and Andy Tillett, the book claims Harry’s sister-in-law, Kate Middleton, tried to convince him to move with caution when it came to courting Meghan.

“[Kate] gently reminded him that he was dating someone with a completely different life, past, and career and it would take time, care and attention for them to integrate,” the authors write, reported the Daily Mail.

Kate’s husband and Harry’s brother reportedly voiced the same concerns, when he asked him, “Is she the right one?” shortly after being introduced to the former actress.

According to the book, Harry’s family had good intent and asked these questions out of genuine concerns.

“The rifts that eventually opened up in the Royal family after Meghan arrived could have been avoided if Harry was able to empathize and take his brother’s concerns in the spirit they were intended,” the authors write, according to the outlet.

The writers also state that Harry felt drawn to Meghan because of her “confidence, commitment, drive and ambition” upon meeting because he “subconsciously was seeking a figure to replace the mother so cruelly torn from him at a vulnerable age.”

This, is the reason Harry goes out of the way to protect Meghan, because he feels like he couldn’t do the same for his mother, Princess Diana.

“It’s my opinion that Harry feels he couldn’t protect his mother, so he’s going all out to protect his wife. He is so sensitive he often sees criticism or negativity where there isn’t any,” a royal aide told the authors.

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China warned

China warned of Tiananmen-like backlash over coronavirus: report – Al Jazeera English

An internal Chinese report warns that Beijing faces a rising wave of hostility in the wake of the coronavirus outbreak that could tip relations with the United States into a confrontation, people familiar with the paper told Reuters news agency.

The report, presented early last month by the Ministry of State Security to top Beijing leaders including President Xi Jinping, concluded that global anti-China sentiment is at its highest since the 1989 Tiananmen Square crackdown, the sources said.

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As a result, Beijing faces a wave of anti-China sentiment led by the United States in the aftermath of the pandemic and needs to be prepared in a worst-case scenario for an armed confrontation between the two global powers, according to people familiar with the report’s content, who declined to be identified given the sensitivity of the matter.

The report was drawn up by the China Institutes of Contemporary International Relations (CICIR), a think-tank affiliated with the Ministry of State Security, China’s top intelligence body.

Reuters has not seen the briefing paper, but it was described by people who had direct knowledge of its findings.

“I don’t have relevant information,” the Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson’s office said in a statement responding to questions from Reuters on the report.

China’s Ministry of State Security has no public contact details and could not be reached for comment.

CICIR, an influential think-tank that until 1980 was within the Ministry of State Security and advises the Chinese government on foreign and security policy, did not reply to a request for comment.

Threats of a backlash

Reuters could not determine to what extent the stark assessment described in the paper reflects positions held by China’s state leaders and to what extent, if at all, it would influence policy.

But the presentation of the report shows how seriously Beijing takes the threat of a building backlash that could threaten what China sees as its strategic investments overseas and its view of its security standing.

Relations between China and the US are widely seen to be at their worst point in decades, with deepening mistrust and friction points from US allegations of unfair trade and technology practices to disputes over Hong Kong, Taiwan and contested territories in the South China Sea.

China - Beijing

Relations between China and the United States are widely seen to be at their worst point in decades [Tingshu Wang/Reuters]

In recent days, US President Donald Trump, facing a more difficult re-election campaign as the coronavirus has killed tens of thousands of American lives and ravaged the US economy, has been ramping up his criticism of Beijing and threatening new tariffs on China. His administration, meanwhile, is considering retaliatory measures against China over the outbreak, officials said.

It is widely believed in Beijing that the US wants to contain a rising China, which has become more assertive globally as its economy has grown.

The paper concluded that Washington views China’s rise as an economic and national security threat and a challenge to Western democracies, the people said. The report also said the US was aiming to undercut the ruling Communist Party by undermining public confidence.

Chinese officials had a “special responsibility” to inform their people and the world of the threat posed by the coronavirus “since they were the first to learn of it,” US State Department spokeswoman Morgan Ortagus said in response to questions from Reuters.

Without directly addressing the assessment made in the Chinese report, Ortagus added: “Beijing’s efforts to silence scientists, journalists and citizens and spread disinformation exacerbated the dangers of this health crisis.”

A spokesman for the US National Security Council declined to comment.

Repercussions

The report described to Reuters warned that anti-China sentiment sparked by the coronavirus could fuel resistance to China’s Belt and Road infrastructure investment projects and that Washington could step up financial and military support for regional allies, making the security situation in Asia more volatile.

Three decades ago, in the aftermath of Tiananmen, the US and many Western governments imposed sanctions against China including banning or restricting arms sales and technology transfers.

China is far more powerful nowadays.

Xi Jinping

Chinese President Xi Jinping seen in April inspecting a primary school in northwestern China [File: Xie Huanchi/Xinhua via AP Photo]

Xi has revamped China’s military strategy to create a fighting force equipped to win modern wars. He is expanding China’s air and naval reach in a challenge to more than 70 years of US military dominance in Asia.

In its statement, China’s foreign ministry called for cooperation, saying: “The sound and steady development of China-US relations” serve the interests of both countries and the international community.

It added: “any words or actions that engage in political manipulation or stigmatisation under the pretext of the pandemic, including taking the opportunity to sow discord between countries are not conducive to international cooperation against the pandemic.”

Echoes of Cold War

One of those with knowledge of the report said it was regarded by some in the Chinese intelligence community as China’s version of the “Novikov Telegram”, a 1946 dispatch by the Soviet ambassador to Washington, Nikolai Novikov, that stressed the dangers of US economic and military ambition in the wake of World War II.

Novikov’s missive was a response to US diplomat George Kennan’s “Long Telegram” from Moscow that said the Soviet Union did not see the possibility for peaceful coexistence with the West and that containment was the best long-term strategy.

The two documents helped set the stage for the strategic thinking that defined both sides of the Cold War.

China has been accused by the United States of suppressing early information on the virus, which was first detected in the central city of Wuhan, and downplaying its risks.

Beijing has repeatedly denied that it covered up the extent or severity of the virus outbreak.

China has managed to contain the domestic spread of the virus and has been trying to assert a leading role in the global battle against COVID-19. That has included a propaganda push around its donations and sale of medical supplies to the US and other countries and sharing of expertise.

But China faces a growing backlash from critics who have called to hold Beijing accountable for its role in the pandemic.

Trump has said he will cut off funding for the World Health Organization (WHO), which he called “very China-centric,” something WHO officials have denied.

Australia’s government has called for an international investigation into the origins and spread of the virus.

Last month, France summoned China’s ambassador to protest a publication on the website of China’s embassy that criticised Western handling of coronavirus.

The virus has so far infected more than three million people globally and caused more than 250,000 deaths, worldwide.

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