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Biden announces Pentagon task force to examine China strategy

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Biden announces Pentagon task force to examine China strategy

WASHINGTON — A new Department of Defense task force will examine the US-China military posture and it’s “growing challenges,” President Biden announced Wednesday during his first visit to the Pentagon as commander in chief.

The panel will work quickly to present Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin with recommendations on military strategy as relations between Washington and Beijing grow increasingly strained in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic and a years-long trade war.

“We need to meet the growing challenges posed by China to keep peace and defend our interests in the Indo-Pacific and globally,” Biden said, referring to a region which includes the heavily-contested South China Sea.

“Today, I was briefed on a new DOD China Task Force that Secretary Austin is standing up to look at our strategy and operational concepts, technology and force posture and so much more,” Biden continued.

“The task force will work quickly drawn on civilian and military experts across the department to provide within the next few months recommendations to Secretary Austin on key priorities and decision points, so that we can chart a strong path forward on China related matters,” he said.

“It’s going to require a whole government effort, bipartisan cooperation in Congress, and strong alliances and partnerships. That’s how we’ll meet the China challenge and ensure the American people win the competition of the future.”

The shifting US-China alliance poses one of the greatest foreign policy challenges to Biden’s presidency.

Under uncompromising predecessor Donald Trump, the US slapped Chinese goods with steep tariffs, took President Xi Jinping to task for the country’s mishandling of the first cases of the coronavirus pandemic, and condemned human rights abuses against Uighurs.

In an interview with CBS News over the weekend, Biden acknowledged China was a growing rival to the US in terms of economic power and military might, but said he would handle matters differently than Trump.

“There’s going to be extreme competition and I’m not going to do it the way that he knows,” Biden said of Jinping.

“I’m not going to do it the way Trump did. We’re going to focus on international rules of the road,” he went on, insisting that there did not need to be conflict between the two countries.

While Communist Beijing described the new Biden administration as “a new window of hope” for US relations, the relationship is off to a rocky start.

China’s foreign ministry dismissed Secretary of State Antony Blinken’s appeals to work together on climate change after he said he agreed that the Chinese government’s treatment of Uighur Muslims amounted to “genocide.” 

“It is impossible to ask for China’s support in global affairs while interfering in its domestic affairs and undermining its interests,” a statement read.

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Texas man shoots wife, then himself inside doctor’s office

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Texas man shoots wife, then himself inside doctor's office

A man shot and injured his wife inside a west Houston doctor’s office on Monday before turning the gun on himself, a report said.

Andrew Wang, 64, was at the medical office next to the Woman’s Hospital of Texas when he carried out the violence just before 3 p.m., Click2Houston.com reported, citing police.

“I’m going to kill you, I want you to die,” Wang was overheard saying before firing two shots at his wife, then himself, according to police.

Wang was declared dead on scene. Police found a gun at the office.

His wife was hospitalized with gunshot wounds to her chest and forearm, the report said. As of Tuesday morning, she was in stable condition.

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Investigators retrieve ‘black box’ data from Tiger Woods’ SUV

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Investigators retrieve 'black box' data from Tiger Woods' SUV

Investigators working to determine the cause of Tiger Woods’ rollover crash have obtained data stored in the “black box” of the luxury SUV he was driving, a report said.

The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department executed a search warrant to gather the information, which could show the vehicle’s speed before the collision and whether its brakes were applied, authorities told USA Today.

“We’re trying to determine if a crime was committed,” Sheriff’s Deputy John Schloegl told the news outlet.

“If somebody is involved in a traffic collision, we’ve got to reconstruct the traffic collision. If there was any reckless driving, if somebody was on their cell phone or something like that. If there was no crime, we close out the case, and it was a regular traffic collision.”

Woods was driving a 2021 Genesis GV80 alone when he veered across the median on Hawthorne Boulevard in Rancho Palos Verdes, went off the road and struck a tree.

The legendary golfer broke several bones in his lower right leg and is still recovering in the hospital.

A forensic car expert had told USA Today that it appeared Woods was not paying attention in the moments before the devastating crash.

“To me, this is like a classic case of falling asleep behind the wheel, because the road curves and his vehicle goes straight,” Jonathan Cherney, a consultant who serves as an expert witness in court cases, told the news outlet.

Felix Lee, an accident reconstruction expert, told the outlet: “My feeling is that speed wasn’t that much of an issue. It was just some kind of inattention that caused the curb strike.”

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Brazilian COVID-19 variant found in Oregon

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Brazilian COVID-19 variant found in Oregon

SALEM, Ore. — A coronavirus variant that was first detected in Brazil has emerged in Oregon, the first known case of the new variant on the contiguous U.S. West Coast, medical authorities said Tuesday.

The sample was sent to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention at the end of January by medical officials in Douglas County, Oregon. They said they received the results back on Monday night, which showed the P.1 variant.

“The P.1 variant … appears to be related to business travel outside the United States to and from Brazil,” the Douglas County COVID-19 Response Team said in a statement Tuesday.

The variant, which was first found in Manaus, Brazil, appears to be more contagious than other COVID-19 strains. It can potentially be contracted by someone who was already infected or who has been vaccinated.

There have been 10 additional cases of the P.1 variant reported in the U.S., with five in Florida, two in Minnesota and one each in Oklahoma, Alaska and Maryland, the CDC says.

Health officials in Douglas County, located in western Oregon, said they are awaiting results of other samples that were sent to the CDC for genome sequence DNA testing for emerging COVID-19 variants.

The Oregon Health Authority said the unidentified person who contracted the Brazilian variant has been working closely with the local health department and has been self-isolating.

Health officials on Tuesday also reported 13 new coronavirus-related deaths in the state, raising the known death toll to 2,225. There were 269 new confirmed and presumptive cases in the state, for a total of 156,037, authorities said.

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