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An Iranian satellite launched by Russia blasted off from Kazakhstan early Tuesday and went into orbit amid controversy that Moscow might use it to improve its surveillance of military targets in Ukraine.
Taiwan held an artillery drill Tuesday simulating a defence against an attack as its top diplomat accused Beijing of preparing to invade the island after days of massive Chinese war games. China launched its largest-ever air and sea exercises around Taiwan last week in a furious response to a visit by US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, the highest-ranking American official to visit the self-ruled island in decades. Taiwan lives under the constant threat of invasion by China, which views its neighbour as part of Chinese territory to be seized one day, by force if necessary. "China has used the drills and its military playbook to prepare for the invasion of Taiwan," Joseph Wu told a press conference in Taipei on Tuesday, accusing Beijing of using Pelosi's visit as a pretext for military action. "China's real intention is to alter the status quo in the Taiwan Strait and entire region," he said. Taipei's drill started in the southern county of Pingtung shortly after 0040 GMT with the firing of target flares and artillery, ending just under an hour later at 0130 GMT, said Lou Woei-jye, spokesman for Taiwan's Eighth Army Corps. Soldiers fired from howitzers tucked into the coast, hidden from view of the road that leads to popular beach destination Kenting. The drills, which will also take place Thursday, included the deployment of hundreds of troops and about 40 howitzers, the army said. On Monday, Lou told AFP the drills had been scheduled previously and were not in response to China's exercises. The island routinely stages military drills simulating defence against a Chinese invasion, and last month practised repelling attacks from the sea in a "joint interception operation" as part of its largest annual exercises. The anti-landing exercises come after China extended its own joint sea and air drills around Taiwan on Monday, but Washington said it did not expect an escalation from Beijing. "I'm not worried, but I'm concerned they're moving as much as they are. But I don't think they're going to do anything more than they are," Biden told reporters at Dover Air Force Base. China has not confirmed if its drills in the Taiwan Strait will continue Tuesday. But Taiwanese foreign minister Joseph Wu condemned Beijing for extending its military exercises around the island, accusing them of trying to control the Taiwan Strait and waters in the wider Asia-Pacific region. "It is conducting large-scale military exercises and missile launches, as well as cyber-attacks, a disinformation campaign and economic coercion in order to weaken public morale in Taiwan," he said. Wu went on to thank Western allies, including the US after Pelosi's visit, for standing up to China. "It also sends a clear message to the world that democracy will not bow to the intimidation of authoritarianism," he said. - 'Not worried' - Taiwan has insisted that no Chinese warplanes or ships entered its territorial waters -- within 12 nautical miles of land -- during Beijing's drills. The Chinese military, however, released a video last week of an air force pilot filming the island's coastline and mountains from his cockpit, showing how close it had come to Taiwan's shores. Its ships and planes have also regularly crossed the median line -- an unofficial demarcation between China and Taiwan that the former does not recognise -- since drills began last week. Ballistic missiles were fired over Taiwan's capital, Taipei, during the exercises last week, according to Chinese state media. On Tuesday, the Chinese military released more details about the anti-submarine drills it had conducted a day earlier around the island. The People's Liberation Army's Eastern Theater command said the exercises were aimed at enhancing the ability of air and sea units to work together while hunting submarines. It said maritime patrol aircraft, fighter jets, helicopters and a destroyer practiced locating and attacking targets in the waters off Taiwan. The scale and intensity of China's drills -- as well as its withdrawal from key talks on climate and defence -- have triggered outrage in the United States and other democracies. The drills have also shown how an increasingly emboldened Chinese military could carry out a gruelling blockade of the island, experts say. But Beijing on Monday defended its behaviour as "firm, forceful and appropriate" to American provocation. "(We) are only issuing a warning to the perpetrators," foreign ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin told a regular briefing, promising China would "firmly smash the Taiwan authorities' illusion of gaining independence through the US". "We urge the US to do some earnest reflection, and immediately correct its mistakes." aw-jfx/cwl
BENGALURU (Reuters) -Indian shares gave up early gains on Wednesday as tech stocks slipped, while traders looked ahead to U.S. inflation data for clues on the pace of rate hikes from the Federal Reserve. At session lows in morning trade, the NSE Nifty 50 index was down 0.47% at 17,442.80, and the S&P BSE Sensex declined 0.46% to 58,583.36. "We are seeing some sort of cautiousness in domestic equities because of the strong U.S. jobs data last week increasing probability of a bigger-sized rate hike by the Federal Reserve," said Shrikant Chouhan, head of retail equity research at Kotak Securities.
The dramatic FBI raid on Donald Trump's palatial Florida residence has supercharged the bitter, polarizing political debate around the slew of judicial investigations facing the former president as he considers another White House run. Monday's shock action marked a stunning escalation of legal probes into the 45th US president, drawing cheers from his political foes and condemnation from his allies. "Nothing like this has ever happened to a President of the United States before," the 76-year-old Trump said of the day-long FBI search of his luxury Mar-a-Lago resort. He denounced the FBI raid as "prosecutorial misconduct" and "weaponization of the Justice System" by "Radical Left Democrats who desperately don't want me to run for President in 2024." The FBI declined to provide a reason for the unprecedented move against a former chief executive. But multiple US media outlets said federal agents were conducting a court-authorized search related to the potential mishandling of classified documents that had been sent to Mar-a-Lago after Trump left the White House in January 2021. Trump has also been facing intense legal scrutiny for his efforts to overturn the results of the 2020 election and the January 6 attack on the US Capitol by his supporters. Since taking his last Air Force One flight from Washington to Florida on January 20 last year, Trump has remained the country's most divisive figure, continuing to sow falsehoods that he actually won the 2020 vote. Leading Republicans quickly rallied around the former president, who was not present at Mar-a-Lago when the raid took place, while top Democrats reacted cautiously or withheld comment. "The Department of Justice has reached an intolerable state of weaponized politicization," said Kevin McCarthy, a California lawmaker who is seeking to become the speaker of the House of Representatives if Republicans win back the chamber in November's midterm elections. Ronna McDaniel, the Republican Party chairwoman, called the raid "outrageous." "Countless times we have examples of Democrats flouting the law and abusing power with no recourse," McDaniel said. "Democrats continually weaponize the bureaucracy against Republicans." Republican Senator Lindsey Graham, a close Trump ally, said "launching an investigation of a former President this close to an election is beyond problematic." After denouncing the raid in a lengthy statement Monday evening, Trump's team put out a fund-raising message on Tuesday asking "every single red-blooded American Patriot to step up" and donate to fight what he called "this NEVERENDING WITCH HUNT." - Trump 2024? - Dan Scavino, Trump's former social media manager, urged him to accelerate an announcement that he would run again. "DO IT — 45! #TRUMP2024," Scavino tweeted. Nancy Pelosi, the Democratic speaker of the House, was asked about the raid during an appearance on NBC. "No person is above the law," she said, "not even a former president of the United States." In his statement, Trump did not give any indication about why the FBI raided his home but said "they even broke into my safe!" Andrew McCabe, a former deputy director of the FBI, said he believed the bureau may have been looking for "something specific" related to its probe into the alleged mishandling of classified information. The National Archives said in February that it had recovered 15 boxes of documents from Mar-a-Lago and asked the Justice Department to look into Trump's handling of classified information. The recovery of the boxes raised questions about Trump's adherence to presidential records laws enacted after the 1970s Watergate scandal that require Oval Office occupants to preserve records. Speaking on CNN, McCabe said "there had to be a suspicion, a concern and indeed specific information that led (the FBI) to believe that there were additional materials that were not turned over." Trump's former communications director Alyssa Farah Griffin told CNN that the raid could fire up his supporters, a small number of whom rallied outside Mar-a-Lago on Tuesday. "If it's seen as some sort of massive overreach and not something incredibly serious, this is a very good day for Donald Trump," Farah Griffin said. For weeks, Washington has been riveted by hearings in Congress about the January 6 storming of the Capitol by Trump supporters and his attempts to overturn the election won by Democrat Joe Biden. Attorney General Merrick Garland has been been careful not to tip his hand when asked whether the Justice Department is building a legal case against Trump over the Capitol riot. "No one is above the law," Garland has said, while adding recently that he intends to "hold accountable every person who is criminally responsible for trying to overturn a legitimate election." Trump is also being investigated for his efforts to alter the 2020 voting results in the state of Georgia, while his business practices are being probed in New York in separate cases, one civil and the other criminal. cl/bgs
A Moscow court on Monday ordered journalist Marina Ovsyannikova, who denounced Russia's intervention in Ukraine, to pay a new fine for discrediting the Russian army. In March, Ovsyannikova shot to prominence for interrupting a live TV broadcast to denounce Russia's military intervention in Ukraine. Her lawyer did not rule out on Monday the possibility she could face a criminal probe in the future. Last week, another court ordered the 44-year-old journalist to pay 50,000 rubles (around $800) for discrediting the Russian army. On Monday, Ovsyannikova, a former editor at state-controlled Channel One, said Moscow's Cheryomushkinsky district court ordered her to pay 40,000 rubles. Ovsyannikova's lawyer Dmitry Zakhvatov told AFP she was fined for a post on Facebook. Two convictions within the space of six months can lead to a criminal case. In court, Ovsyannikova said she "trolled" the judge but he did not seem to understand her irony. "America and Europe are to blame for the fact that there is no longer freedom of speech, just courts and fair elections in Russia. And people are put in jail for calling for peace," she said in court, according to her statement on messaging app Telegram. Ovsyannikova, a mother of two, was briefly detained in July. Her short detention came several days after she demonstrated alone near the Kremlin, holding up a sign criticising the military intervention in Ukraine and President Vladimir Putin. After sending troops to Ukraine, Moscow adopted laws imposing sentences of up to 15 years in prison for spreading information about the military deemed false by the authorities. Russian authorities have not announced the opening of any criminal investigation against Ovsyannikova. In the months following her March protest, Ovsyannikova spent time abroad, working for three months for Germany's Die Welt. In early July, she announced that she was returning to Russia to settle a dispute over the custody of her two children. The journalist, who worked for state TV for 19 years, told AFP in a recent interview she had to sell her car to bring in some extra money. Ovsyannikova, who does not currently have a permanent job, works as a freelancer for foreign media. bur/kjm
Former captain Kohli and Bumrah were left out of the T20 squad for the five-match series against West Indies, which India went on to win 4-1 on Sunday. Kohli has endured a lean run of form across all formats and the 33-year-old is without a century in international cricket since November 2019.
Endangered sharks, rays and skates in the Mediterranean are more frequently caught in protected than in unprotected areas, according to research published Tuesday highlighting the need for better conservation for critically threatened species.