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After angering China on her trip to Taiwan, US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi met South Korean political leaders in Seoul on Thursday but avoided making direct public comments on relations with Beijing and Taipei that could further inflame regional tensions.
Pelosi, the first House Speaker to visit Taiwan in 25 years, said in Taipei on Wednesday that America’s commitment to the self-ruled island’s democracy is “cast in iron.” In response to Pelosi’s support for Taiwan, China on Thursday began military exercises including missile strike training in six zones around Taiwan, which could be the largest of their kind since the mid-1990s.
After visiting Taiwan, Pelosi and other members of her congressional delegation flew to South Korea — a key US ally where about 28,500 American troops are stationed — on Wednesday evening, as part of an Asian tour that included earlier stops in Singapore and Malaysia. After South Korea, Pelosi will go to Japan.
WNBA star Brittney Griner has been indicted in Russia
A Russian judge sentenced Britney Griner to nine years in a penal colony after the WNBA star and two-time United States Olympic gold medalist pleaded guilty to drug possession.
Griner, who entered the guilty plea weeks ago, apologized to his family and wife.
“I made an honest mistake, and I hope that in your judgment, it will not end my life here,” Griner said to the judge.
Now that the trial is over, negotiations to free Griner are expected to continue between Washington and Moscow amid tensions between the two countries.
Griner, who has played for Russian team UMMC Ekaterinburg since 2014 during the WNBA offseason, was arrested on February 17 at Moscow’s Sheremetyevo Airport. Russian authorities said she carried vape cartridges containing hashish oil in her luggage; Griner said during the trial in Khmiki, Russia, that she had accidentally packed them in a hurry and pleaded guilty “without intention”. However, the court held that she committed the crime knowingly.
“The hard work my parents instilled in me brought me here in Ekaterinburg to play for the best Euroleague and Russian team,” Griner said Thursday from a cage inside the courtroom. “I want to apologize to my teammates, the club, the fans and the city (of Ekaterinburg) for the mistake I made and the shame I have caused.
“This is my second home. I just wanted to win a championship and make them proud.”
Real Fast: Stories You Want to Read
- Tennessee primary: County general election races, amendments to Nashville’s metro charter and primaries for state and federal office are on the ballot, including the Democratic gubernatorial race and contests for all nine of the state’s congressional seats.
- New to NATO: In a bipartisan show of support, the US Senate on Wednesday passed a resolution approving a request by Finland and Sweden to join NATO by force, a major step toward expanding the 30-member transatlantic military alliance.
- Death of al-Qaeda leader: Answers to the big questions surrounding the US drone strike that killed al-Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahri could take weeks, months or years. Here are some key outstanding questions.
- Out-of-state abortions: President Joe Biden signed a new executive order Wednesday that will support individuals traveling out of state for abortions. However, no immediate policies will come into effect as a result of the order.
The Kansas abortion vote could spell trouble for the GOP in the midterms
Kansas voters turned out in large numbers Tuesday to vote to protect abortion rights in their state. The Supreme Court in Roe v. The state’s response to the first abortion rights ballot question since Wade was overturned sent shockwaves across the country’s political landscape, signaling that the issue may be more persuasive for voting in the midterm elections than previously thought.
Jerolyn Quinones, 65, a paralegal and Democrat, was “stunned” by the turnout in her largely conservative home state, she told USA Today late Wednesday morning.
The results taught her something: The abortion issue is cut by partisan politics. Women may not have had signs in their yards or belong to the same political party as she did about abortion rights, but they were quietly lined up at the ballot box.
“Women understand that their rights are being taken away … and if they don’t act, we’re going to be back in the 1950s,” Quinones said. “Even if women have different political beliefs or different religious beliefs, they agree that they want the right to make their own choices.”
If the Kansas poll is replicated across the country in November, it will benefit Democrats, who are counting on a Roe reversal to improve their odds this fall because of the party’s heavy consumer prices, President Joe Biden’s low approval numbers and historical record. Midterms usually go against the party of the sitting president.
A monkeypox outbreak that has infected more than 6,600 people in the United States is officially a public health emergency, the Biden administration announced Thursday. — Ella and Amy