What is the United States ‘gun lobby’ and how powerful is it?

President Joe Biden has called on legislators to ‘stand up’ to the gun lobby following a massacre at a Texas primary school.

Columbine
Advocates say the powerful gun lobby in the US has prevented federal gun control reforms for decades [File: Brennan Linsley/Associated Press]

By Joseph Stepansky

Published On 25 May 202225 May 2022 Al Jareaza

massacre at a Texas primary school has again drawn attention to the powerful gun lobby in the United States, with Democratic officials blaming Republican legislators for remaining beholden to influential pro-gun interests that advocates say have stalled national gun reforms.

President Joe Biden, speaking hours after an 18-year-old gunman stormed the Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas, fatally shooting 19 children and two teachers on Tuesday, asked: “When, in God’s name, are we going to stand up to the gun lobby?”.

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Former President Barack Obama, who was in office when a gunman killed 20 children and six adults at the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut in 2012, said the US “is paralysed, not by fear, but by a gun lobby and a political party that have shown no willingness to act in any way that might help prevent these tragedies”.

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Australia’s election: Quad continuity and climate alignment, with nuclear disagreements



By Graeme DobellGraeme Dobell (graemedobell@aspi.org.au) is Journalist Fellow at the Australian Strategic Policy Institute. He has been reporting on Australian and international politics, foreign affairs and defense, and the Asia-Pacific since 1975.
Australia’s election: Quad continuity and climate alignment, with nuclear disagreements

Sworn-in as Australia’s new prime minister, within hours Anthony Albanese was flying to Japan for the summit of the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue (“Quad”).

An accident of timing—the May 24 summit following Australia’s May 21 election—offered the leader of the Australian Labor Party plenty of flying-start symbolism.

Departing Canberra for Tokyo, Albanese said the “message to the world” was that Australia had a new government that would lift policy on climate change, while emphasizing foreign policy continuity and the value of “friendships and long-time alliances.”

The Quad  

Labor’s attitude to the Quad today (version 2.0) differs markedly from its rejection of the first version of the Quad.  

Back in 2008, the Rudd Labor government walked away from Quad 1.0 because ties with Japan or India could endanger its relationship with China, as Kevin Rudd argued: “Australia would run the risk of being left high and dry as a result of future foreign policy departures in Tokyo or Delhi.”

Labor has gone from negative to positive about the Quad, reflecting the shift from positive to negative in Australia’s view of China. When Quad 2.0 was created in 2017, Labor matched the Liberal-National Coalition government’s enthusiasm for the reborn grouping.

Albanese, a minister in the government that sank Quad 1.0, told the Tokyo summit that his government’s priorities aligned with the Quad agenda: “I acknowledge all that the Quad has achieved. Standing together for a free, open, and resilient Indo-Pacific region. And working together to tackle the biggest challenges of our time, including climate change and the security of our region. My government is committed to working with your countries and we are committed to the Quad.”

AUKUS

Labor’s policy states that it will aim at “maximi[zing] the potential of the important, bipartisan AUKUS agreement.” The language is a nod to the greatest defence achievement of the outgoing prime minister, Scott Morrison—the deal with the US and UK to build an Australian nuclear-powered submarine.

A Canberra jest is that while China was stunned by AUKUS, the most amazed people were in the US Navy. The US Navy line had always been that Australia should not bother asking for a nuclear sub, because the answer would be an emphatic refusal. As China sparked the rebirth of the Quad, so Beijing helped Washington change its mind about sharing submarine technology.

The Biden administration insisted it would go ahead with AUKUS only if Labor gave it solid backing. But Morrison waited four-and-a-half months before informing Labor. During the campaign, Albanese condemned Morrison for seeking political advantage by telling Labor about AUKUS the day before it was announced.

“It is extraordinary that the prime minister broke that faith and trust with our most important ally by not briefing Australian Labor on these issues,” Albanese said.

Morrison replied that he’d maintained full secrecy and did not want to give Labor the chance to leak details of the negotiations.

Now, Labor’s job is to make AUKUS work.  

Changed China

Changes in China, and in Australian views toward China, have done their part to ensure bipartisan continuity on the Quad and AUKUS. A shared Labor-Liberal line throughout the campaign, with a three-word expression, was to blame Beijing for the problems in the bilateral relationship: “China has changed.”

The diplomatic icy age is five years old. China has been doing the trade squeeze on Australia for two years. China’s ministers will not take phone calls from Australian ministers, nor respond to ministerial letters.  

As he headed for Tokyo, Albanese commented: “The relationship with China will remain a difficult one. … It is China that has changed, not Australia. And Australia should always stand up for our values. And we will in a government that I lead.”

Beijing could use the new government in Canberra as the opportunity for a reset, linking it to the 50th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations in December. First, though, China must reverse the billions of dollars of thinly disguised political trade bans imposed on Australian exports, or as Labor’s Foreign Minister Penny Wong puts it: “Desist from its coercive economic positions.”

The first step from Beijing was a message of congratulations to Albanese from Premier Li Keqiang saying, “The Chinese side is ready to work with the Australian side to review the past, look into the future and uphold the principle of mutual respect and mutual benefit, so as to promote the sound and steady growth of their comprehensive strategic partnership.”

Australia chooses the United States

A Canberra refrain of earlier decades was that Australia didn’t have to choose between China and the US.

No longer. Australia has chosen because of what China has become.

In the election foreign policy debate at the National Press Club, Wong said the no-choice duality was the way John Howard’s government (1996-2007) could balance the principal strategic relationship with the US and the principal economic relationship with China. That no-choice balance was gone, Wong stated: “Clearly, the way in which economic power is being utilized for strategic purposes means that duality, as a model of engagement, is no longer the case. I would make this point, though—we have actually already chosen. We have an alliance that’s over 70 years old, between us and the US, an alliance with deep bipartisan support. So we have already chosen.”

Wong used Madeleine Albright’s phrase, saying the US remained the “indispensible partner” in the reshaping of the region, while Australia must do much more with partners in Southeast Asia and the South Pacific.

The “we’ve chosen” message from Wong is an echo and an answer to a set of question that nagged at Washington in the first decade of this century: How far would Australia lean towards China?

The Biden administration’s Indo-Pacific coordinator, Kurt Campbell, says Australia’s response to China’s coercion had resolved US doubts about Canberra: “Frankly, if you’d asked me 10 years ago what country was most likely to start thinking about ‘we have to have a different kind of relationship with China and maybe think differently about the United States,’ it might have been Australia. I think that is completely gone now.”

Banning nuclear weapons

Labor has promised to sign and ratify the UN Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons. For Albanese, this is both policy commitment and personal belief. At Labor’s national conference in 2018, Albanese moved the motion to make the treaty party policy.

He recounted how one of his mentors on Labor’s left wing, Tom Uren, had been a prisoner of war on an island close to Nagasaki, and “saw there the second atomic bomb with his own eyes. He came back, having fought for Australia, a fighter for peace and disarmament.”

Albanese said the nuclear ban should be core business for Labor, and is following Labor tradition, campaigning against nuclear weapons while holding tight to the extended deterrence offered by the US alliance, as outlined by the Keating Labor government’s 1994 Defence White Paper:

“The Government does not accept nuclear deterrence as a permanent condition. It is an interim measure until a total ban on nuclear weapons, accompanied by substantial verification provisions, can be achieved. In this interim period, although it is hard to envisage the circumstances in which Australia could be threatened by nuclear weapons, we cannot rule out that possibility. We will continue to rely on the extended deterrence of the US nuclear capability to deter any nuclear threat or attack on Australia. Consequently, we will continue to support the maintenance by the United States of a nuclear capability adequate to ensure that it can deter nuclear threats against allies like Australia.”

In his talks with US President Joe Biden, Albanese can promise that a Labor government will be much closer to the US position on climate change than the previous Liberal-National coalition government. 

Instead, the new difference between the two allies will be over nuclear weapons.

Bridging this difference looks an impossible quest. Managing it will involve Australia talking more openly about the extended deterrence bargain. Such a debate will build on what has been a long discussion of Australia’s calculations and commitments in hosting the key US signals intelligence base at Pine Gap. 

In adopting the UN treaty, the Albanese government will draw on the alliance approaches used in earlier eras to deal with the United States’ neither-conform-nor-deny nuclear policy; the creation of the South Pacific Nuclear Free Zone treaty; and the lessons Canberra took when New Zealand crashed out of ANZUS alliance 36 years ago because of its anti-nuclear policy.

The 70-year history of the alliance gives plenty of guidance on using broad agreement to balance individual policy differences.PacNet commentaries and responses represent the views of the respective authors. Alternative viewpoints are always welcomed and encouraged.
 
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U.S.-Vietnam Cooperation under Biden’s Indo-Pacific Strategy

March 2, 2022 Bich T. Tran, Adjunct Fellow, CSIS

On February 11, 2022, the Biden administration released its Indo-Pacific Strategy. The document covers a vast geographic area including many nations and touches on a wide range of issues. What does the new strategy mean for U.S.-Vietnam cooperation?

Diplomatic Cooperation

The strategy names Vietnam as one of the United States’ leading regional partners. Keen observers have anticipated the U.S.-Vietnam Comprehensive Partnership signed in 2013 to be upgraded to a strategic partnership. Although some U.S. and Vietnamese officials have said that the name does not matter, formally upgrading to a strategic partnership with a written joint statement will assure both sides’ commitments.

Economic Cooperation

Vietnam’s digital economy is rapidly expanding. In 2011, only 35 percent of the Vietnamese population used the internet, which doubled to 70 percent by 2020. According to the e-Conomy SEA 2021 report, 71 percent of Vietnamese internet users have made at least one purchase online. The report projected Vietnam’s gross merchandise value (GMV) to reach a total value of $21 billion in 2021, when all sectors, except online travel, experienced double-digit growth. E-commerce is leading the pack, with a 53 percent increase from $8 billion to $13 billion. Vietnam’s GMV is expected to grow from $21 billion in 2021 to $57 billion in 2025.

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Council on Foreign Relations: Monitor World Conflicts

Council on Foreign Relations: Monitor World Conflicts
  
Tensions in the East China Sea The Global Conflict Tracker identifies conflicts around the world, follows their evolution, and assesses their impact on U.S. national security. Our newly redesigned and expertly researched tool from CFR’s Center for Preventive Action includes live data, background information, the latest developments, and critical resources to provide insight on the world’s strife.
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Conflict in Ukraine
Conflict status: Worsening
Russia’s military invasion risks a wider European conflict. Stay up to date.
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Conflict status: Worsening
Decades of instability continue amid the 2021 Taliban takeover. Read about the history.
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Conflict status: Unchanging
The nation’s leader continues to provoke a global crisis with his nuclear ambitions. Learn about attempts at rapprochement.
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Indian man jailed for 10 years over wife’s ‘dowry death’

By Rhea Mogul, CNN

Updated 0545 GMT (1345 HKT) May 25, 2022 CNN

Despite being outlawed under the 1961 Dowry Prohibition Act, India’s dowry system remains deeply entrenched in society and has become associated with violence against women.

Vismaya Nair is seen in this undated image.

Vismaya Nair is seen in this undated image.

(CNN)A court in southern India on Tuesday sentenced a man to 10 years in prison in a ruling that found he abused his wife over their wedding dowry, leading to her death by suicide.

The district court in Kerala state found Kiran Kumar guilty under India’s “dowry death” law, which allows charges to be brought against people for causing the death of a woman within the first seven years of a marriage featuring dowry gifts and payments.

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Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court – the Crime of Aggression – Đạo luật Rome của Tòa Hình sự Quốc tế về Tội Xâm lược: Điều 8 bis – Hình tội xâm lược

Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court – the Crime of AggressionĐạo luật Rome của Tòa Hình sự Quốc tế – Tội Xâm lược
Article 8 bis -Crime of aggressionĐiều 8 bis – Hình tội xâm lược
1. For the purpose of this Statute, “crime of aggression” means the planning, preparation, initiation or execution, by a person in a position effectively to exercise control over or to direct the political or military action of a State, of an act of aggression which, by its character, gravity and scale, constitutes a manifest violation of the Charter of the United Nations.1. Cho mục đích của Đạo luật này, “tội xâm lược” nghĩa là lập kế hoạch, chuẩn bị, khởi sự hay xúc tiến, bởi một người trong một chức vị hành xử hiệu lực sự kiểm soát hay điều khiển hành vi chính trị hay quân sự của một Quốc gia, một hành vi xâm lược mà, bởi bản chất, tính nghiêm trọng và quy mô của nó, tạo nên một vi phạm hiển nhiên đến Hiến chương Liên hợp quốc.
2. For the purpose of paragraph 1, “act of aggression” means the use of armed force by a State against the sovereignty, territorial integrity or political independence of another State, or in any other manner inconsistent with the Charter of the United Nations. Any of the following acts, regardless of a declaration of war, shall, in accordance with United Nations General Assembly resolution 3314 (XXIX) of 14 December 1974, qualify as an act of aggression:

a) The invasion or attack by the armed forces of a State of the territory of another State, or any military occupation, however temporary, resulting from such invasion or attack, or any annexation by the use of force of the territory of another State or part thereof;

b) Bombardment by the armed forces of a State against the territory of another State or the use of any weapons by a State against the territory of another State;

c) The blockade of the ports or coasts of a State by the armed forces of another State;

d) An attack by the armed forces of a State on the land, sea or air forces, or marine and air fleets of another State;

e) The use of armed forces of one State which are within the territory of another State with the agreement of the receiving State, in contravention of the conditions provided for in the agreement or any extension of their presence in such territory beyond the termination of the agreement;

f) The action of a State in allowing its territory, which it has placed at the disposal of another State, to be used by that other State for perpetrating an act of aggression against a third State;

g) The sending by or on behalf of a State of armed bands, groups, irregulars or mercenaries, which carry out acts of armed force against another State of such gravity as to amount to the acts listed above, or its substantial involvement therein.
2. Cho mục đích của đoạn 1, “hành vi xâm lược” nghĩa là sự sử dụng vũ lực quân sự bởi một Quốc gia chống lại chủ quyền, toàn vẹn lãnh thổ hay độc lập chính trị của một Quốc gia khác, hay dưới bất kỳ hình thức nào không phù hợp với Hiến chương Liên hợp quốc. Bất kỳ hành vi nào sau đây, dù có tuyên chiến hay không, đều, theo đúng Nghị quyết 2214 (XXIX) ngày 14 tháng 12 năm 1974, là hành vi xâm lược:

a) Xâm lấn hay tấn công do các lực lượng vũ trang của một Quốc gia vào lãnh thổ của một Quốc gia khác, hay sự chiếm đóng quân sự, dù tạm thời đến đâu, sinh ra từ sự xâm lấn hay tấn công đó, hay bất kỳ sự sát nhập nào bằng vũ lực lãnh thổ hay một phần lãnh thổ của một Quốc gia khác;

b) Oanh kích do các lực lượng vũ trang của một Quốc gia vào lãnh thổ của một Quốc gia khác hay sự sử dụng bất kỳ vũ khí nào bởi một Quốc gia vào lãnh thổ của một Quốc gia khác;

c) Phong tỏa các cảng và bờ biển của một Quốc gia bằng các lực lượng vũ trang của một Quốc gia khác;

d) Một cuộc tấn công do các lực lượng vũ trang của một Quốc gia vào các lực lượng trên bộ, trên biển hay trên không hay các hạm đội hoặc phi đội của một Quốc gia khác;

e) Sử dụng các lực lượng vũ trang của một Quốc gia đang ở trong lãnh thổ của một Quốc gia khác với sự thỏa thuận của Quốc gia tiếp nhận, ngược với những điều kiện đã quy định trong thỏa thuận hay trong bất kỳ sự gia hạn hiện diện nào của các lực lượng vũ trang đó trong lãnh thổ đó sau khi sự thỏa thuận đã hết hạn.

f) Hành động của một Quốc gia, đã đặt lãnh thổ của mình dưới quyền sử dụng của một Quốc gia khác, cho phép lãnh thổ của mình được Quốc gia khác đó sử dụng để thực hiện một hành vi xâm lược chống lại một Quốc gia thứ ba;

g) Việc gửi, bởi hay thay mặt một Quốc gia, các băng đảng, các nhóm, các lực lượng không chính quy hay lính đánh thuê vũ trang, để thực hiện các hành vi vũ lực quân sự vào một Quốc gia khác nghiêm trọng đến mức tạo thành các hành vi xâm lược kể trên, hay nhúng tay đáng kể vào việc gửi quân đó.
(TĐH chuyển ngữ)
mmmmmmm

Chuỗi bài:

Vietnam an easier destination after return to pre-COVID rules

A Nikkei reporter reflects on a milestone in the country’s path out of pandemic

Roadblocks in Ho Chi Minh City were common in October, but now Vietnam has eliminated almost all COVID restrictions for foreign and domestic travel. (Photo by Lien Hoang)

LIEN HOANG, Nikkei staff writerMay 24, 2022 12:23 JST NIKKEI

HO CHI MINH CITY — Last week after a trip to California, I returned to Vietnam with a COVID vaccine certificate, negative PCR test and smartphone tracing app in hand. The green-uniformed immigration officer at the airport asked for none of it. Inside his plexiglass cage, the 20-something officer gestured for me to pull down my mask for a second. I spent less than a minute and zero words at passport control and then was back outside on the balmy, car horn-filled streets of Ho Chi Minh City.

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Quad Joint Leaders’ Statement

MAY 24, 2022•STATEMENTS AND RELEASES The White House

Today, we – Prime Minister Anthony Albanese of Australia, Prime Minister Narendra Modi of India, Prime Minister Fumio Kishida of Japan, and President Joe Biden of the United States – convene in Tokyo to renew our steadfast commitment to a free and open Indo-Pacific that is inclusive and resilient.

Just over one year ago, Leaders met for the first time. Today in Tokyo, we convene for our fourth meeting, and our second in person, to demonstrate, at a time of profound global challenge, that the Quad is a force for good, committed to bringing tangible benefits to the region. In our first year of cooperation, we established the Quad’s dedication to a positive and practical agenda; in our second year, we are committed to deliver on this promise, making the region more resilient for the 21st century.

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‘Looty’ project launches digital art heists to reclaim African artifacts

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'Looty' project launches digital art heists to reclaim African artifacts
View of a computer-rendered image, with an added design to a looted artwork from Nigeria, that now resides in a British museum, with project’s aim to give part of its non-fungible token (NFT) sale proceeds to fund young African artists, in this handout obtained May 23, 2022. Looty Art/Handout via REUTERS
'Looty' project launches digital art heists to reclaim African artifacts
Screenshot of the design process on an image of a looted artwork from Nigeria, that now resides in a British museum, with project’s aim to give part of its non-fungible token (NFT) sale proceeds to fund young African artists, in this handout obtained May 23, 2022. Looty Art/Handout via REUTERS

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Tired of being ‘fetishized and invisible,’ Asian artists are changing the narrative

Published 24th May 2022 CNN

Credit: Courtesy of Chelsea Ryoko Wong, Jessica Silverman, San Francisco, and Jeffrey Deitch, New York

Tired of being ‘fetishized and invisible,’ Asian artists are changing the narrative

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Written byAnn Binlot, CNN

In much of Western art, Asian women have often appeared as one-dimensional characters — sometimes seen as meek and docile, and at other times hypersexualized and exoticized. But such portrayals fail to show individuals coming from a myriad of cultural backgrounds, their identities rooted in distinctly different countries and histories.

“Wonder Women,” a new exhibition at the Jeffrey Deitch gallery in New York, seeks to counter stereotypical representations made by outsiders, presenting works by Asian American and diasporic women and non-binary artists “portraying themselves or their family members as heroes in their own ways,” explained show curator Kathy Huang.

“I had always grappled with ideas of being both fetishized and invisible in pop culture and visual culture,” said Huang, adding that she drew inspiration from the 1981 poem “Wonder Woman” by Genny Lim.

“In the poem, the narrator is observing the different lives of Asian women,” she explained. “That’s something that I had wondered myself … because I have my individual experience as a Chinese American woman, but there were so many other experiences that I don’t know about.”

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Japan-U.S. Joint Leaders’ Statement: Strengthening the Free and Open International Order 

 

MAY 23, 2022•STATEMENTS AND RELEASES The White House

Today, Japan and the United States affirm a partnership that is stronger and deeper than at any time in its history. Guided by our shared values; anchored by our common commitment to democracy and the rule of law; inspired by the innovation and technological dynamism of our economies; and rooted in the deep people-to-people ties between our countries, the Japan-U.S relationship is the cornerstone of a free and open Indo-Pacific region.

It is in this spirit that Prime Minister of Japan KISHIDA Fumio welcomed Joseph R. Biden, Jr to Japan in his first visit as President of the United States. President Biden commended Prime Minister Kishida’s global leadership, including in the Japan-Australia-India-U.S. (Quad) Summit meeting.

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Biden’s new trade deal is based on two big ideas: moving away from neoliberalism and containing China.

May 23, 2022
By David Leonhardt, New York Times newsletter

President Biden in Japan.Doug Mills/The New York Times
Biden in Asia
The politics of trade policy have become toxic in the U.S.
For decades, the mainstream of both the Democratic and Republican parties favored expanding trade between the U.S. and other countries. Greater globalization, these politicians promised, would increase economic growth — and with the bounty from that growth, the country could compensate any workers who suffered from increased trade. But it didn’t work out that way.
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What a Nobel laureate’s take on Donald Trump reveals about today

Opinion by Jane Greenway Carr

Updated 1734 GMT (0134 HKT) May 22, 2022, CNN

'It is White supremacy': CNN speaks to son of Buffalo massacre victim

(CNN) Shortly after Donald Trump was elected President of the United States, Nobel laureate Toni Morrison wrote in The New Yorker: “Unlike any nation in Europe, the United States holds whiteness as the unifying force. Here, for many people, the definition of ‘Americanness’ is color.” Reflecting on efforts — largely by White men — to define themselves by sustaining that poisonous definition, Morrison argues that those “who are prepared to abandon their humanity out of fear of black men and women, suggest the true horror of lost status.”

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