TAIPEI: China has made the second largest incursion into Taiwan’s air defense zone this year with Taipei reporting 30 jets entering the area, including more than 20 fighters.
Taiwan’s defense ministry said late Monday it had scrambled its own aircraft and deployed air defense missile systems to monitor the latest Chinese activity.
In recent years, Beijing has begun sending large sorties into Taiwan’s defense zone to signal dissatisfaction, and to keep Taipei’s aging fighter fleet regularly stressed.
Self-ruled democratic Taiwan lives under the constant threat of invasion by China, which views the island as its territory and has vowed to one day seize it, by force if necessary.
The United States last week accused Beijing of raising tensions over the island, with Secretary of State Antony Blinken specifically mentioning aircraft incursions as an example of “increasingly provocative rhetoric and activity.”
Blinken’s remarks came after US President Joe Biden appeared to break decades of US policy when in response to a question on a visit to Japan he said Washington would defend Taiwan militarily if it is attacked by China.
But the White House has since insisted its policy of “strategic ambiguity” over whether or not it would intervene has not changed.
Monday’s incursion was the largest since January 23, when 39 planes entered the air defense identification zone, or ADIZ.
The ADIZ is not the same as Taiwan’s territorial airspace but includes a far greater area that overlaps with part of China’s own air defense identification zone and even includes some of the mainland.
A flight map provided by the Taiwanese defense ministry showed the planes entering the southwestern corner of the ADIZ before looping back out again.
Last year, Taiwan recorded 969 incursions by Chinese warplanes into its ADIZ, according to an AFP database — more than double the roughly 380 carried out in 2020.
The most number of aircraft China has sent in a single day was 56 on October 4, 2021.
That month saw a record 196 incursions, mostly around China’s annual national day celebrations.
So far in 2022 Taiwan has reported 465 incursions, a near 50 percent increase on the same period last year.
The sheer number of sorties has put the air force under immense pressure, and it has suffered a string of fatal accidents in recent years.
On Tuesday local media reported that a pilot had died after crashing a trainer jet in southern Kaohsiung.
It is not the first deadly crash this year — in January one of Taiwan’s most advanced fighter jets, an F-16V, plunged into the sea.
Last March, Taiwan grounded all military aircraft after a pilot was killed and another went missing when their fighters collided mid-air in the third fatal crash in less than six months.
WASHINGTON: A number of people were killed or wounded in two separate shootings in the US on Thursday as President  Joe Biden appealed to Congress to take action against gun violence.
“Enough, enough,” Biden said in an impassioned address to the nation, after mass shootings he said had turned schools, supermarkets and other everyday places into “killing fields.”
At almost the same time that Biden was speaking, a shooting was going on outside a church in Ames in the state of Iowa. Police later said three people, including the shooter died.
The shooting happened outside the Cornerstone Church, a megachurch on the outskirts of Ames, according to the Story County Sheriff’s Office. The church is near Interstate 35, about 30 miles (48.28 kilometers) north of Des Moines.
Hours earlier, US police reported that two people were shot at Graceland Cemetery in Racine, Wisconsin state.
Sgt. Kristi Wilcox said a juvenile was treated and released and a second person was flown to a hospital in Milwaukee. It was not immediately known if any suspects were in custody.
Ascension All Saints Hospital, which is next to the cemetery, said it is treating an undisclosed number of victims from the shooting.
The shooting comes the day after a gunman killed his surgeon and three other people at a Tulsa medical office. 
The Wisconsin and Iowa incidents were latest in a series of mass shootings in the US including the school massacre in Uvalde, Texas, and an attack on a supermarket in Buffalo, New York.
Racine Mayor Cory Mason released a statement saying the “heinous shooting at a cemetery while a family was already mourning the loss of a loved one is a new low for these perpetrators of violence in our community. The violence has got to stop!“

‘How much more carnage?’
Speaking at the White House, Biden urged voters to use their “outrage” to turn it into a central issue in November’s midterm elections if legislators fail to act.
He acknowledged the stiff political headwinds as he sought to drive up pressure on Congress to pass stricter gun limits after such efforts failed following past attacks.
He repeated calls to restore a ban on the sale of assault-style weapons and high-capacity magazines — and said if Congress won’t embrace all of his proposals, it must at least find compromises like keeping firearms from those with mental health issues or raising the age to buy assault-style weapons from 18 to 21.
“How much more carnage are we willing to accept?” Biden asked after last week’s shootings by an 18-year-old gunman, who killed 19 students and two teachers at an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas, and another attack Wednesday in Tulsa, Oklahoma, where a gunman shot and killed four people and himself at a medical office. 
“Don’t tell me raising the age won’t make a difference,” he said.
The most recent shootings came close on the heels of the May 14 assault in Buffalo, New York, where a white 18-year-old wearing military gear and livestreaming with a helmet camera opened fire with a rifle at a supermarket in a predominantly Black neighborhood, killing 10 people and wounding three others in what authorities described as “racially motivated violent extremism.”
“This time we have to take the time to do something,” Biden said, calling out the Senate, where 10 Republican votes would be needed to pass legislation.

‘It’s about protecting children’
For all the passion of Biden’s address, and for all his big asks and smaller fallback alternatives, any major action by Congress is still a long shot.
“I know how hard it is, but I’ll never give up, and if Congress fails, I believe this time a majority of the American people won’t give up either,” he added. “I believe the majority of you will act to turn your outrage into making this issue central to your vote.”
Adding a stark perspective to young people’s deaths, he noted that Centers for Disease Control data shows “guns are the number one killer of children in the United States of America,” ahead of car crashes.
“Over the last two decades, more school-age children have died from guns than on-duty police officers and active-duty military — combined,” he said.
Aware of persistent criticism from gun-rights advocates, Biden insisted his appeal wasn’t about “vilifying gun owners” or “taking away anybody’s guns.”
“We should be treating responsible gun owners as an example of how every gun owner should behave,” Biden said. “This isn’t about taking away anyone’s rights, it’s about protecting children, it’s about protecting families.”
He called on Congress to end “outrageous” protections for gun manufacturers, which severely limit their liability over how their firearms are used, comparing it to the tobacco industry, which has faced repeated litigation over its products’ role in causing cancer and other diseases.
“Imagine if the tobacco industry had been immune from being sued, where we’d be today,” Biden said.
All major broadcast networks broke away from regular programing to carry Biden’s remarks at 7:30 p.m. EDT, before the start of prime-time shows.
TIRANA, Albania: A group of people evacuated from Afghanistan as the Taliban returned to power last year held a protest Wednesday in Albania over the failure to expedite their move to the United States.
A small group of families in Shengjin, a town located 70 kilometers (45 miles) northwest of Albania’s capital, Tirana, called on the US to speed up the process of their transfer. Some women and children held posters reading, “We are forgotten.”
Some 2,400 Afghans were evacuated to Albania in August and September 2021 and given temporary shelter in Shengjin and another resort town, Durres.
Non-governmental organizations from United States and other countries provided financial support for accommodating them.
The Albanian government said at the time that it would house thousands of Afghans for at least a year before they moved to the United States for final settlement. More recently, the government pledged to keep them for longer than a year if their US visas were delayed.
The Foreign Ministry says 900 of the evacuees remain in Albania. Those no longer in the European country went to the US and Canada.
Bledar Shima, the manager of a resort in Shengjin sheltering 350 Afghans, said the property has not been paid for six months. Shima urged the Albanian government to intervene, according to private TV station Top Channel.
LONDON: Hunger-striking asylum-seekers, destined for Rwanda, will be deported faster if they do not consume food and water, the UK Home Office has said.
At least 17 people from Syria, Egypt and Sudan, who are being held at the Brook House immigration removal center near Gatwick Airport, began the protest when they were told they would be sent to Rwanda on June 14 as part of a controversial new scheme.
One asylum-seeker was told in a letter that they might be deported even sooner if they did not stop their hunger strike.
In a warning that could be interpreted as a threat to the wider group, the letter said: “Your refusal of food and/or fluids will not necessarily lead to your removal directions being deferred. In the interests of your health and safety we may prioritize your removal from detention and the UK.”
The welfare of the person was “of real concern to the Home Office,” it added.
Some of the hunger strikers said they were being treated in the UK the same as they had been while detained in Libya.
“I just want to be safe and free. I’m not a criminal,” one said. “Why did the UK put me in prison. I have no connection with Rwanda. Why would the UK send me there?”
Charity workers campaigning for the detainees said they had been successfully trying to encourage them to abandon their hunger strike.
Clare Moseley, the founder of the charity Care4Calais, said five asylum-seekers remained on hunger strike but she was hopeful they would be persuaded to stop.
“We’ve told them there’s lots of ways that we can fight this and lots of reasons to be hopeful,” she said.
“One person was released last week, another person was released yesterday. Campaigners and lawyers are working right across the bank holiday weekend and there’s lots of people behind them.
“We need them to eat because we need them to be strong to fight with us. They are saying that a hunger strike is the way to fight this, but we are are saying there’s other ways that we can fight it.”
A Syrian detainee at Brook House said that he and 17 others had been on hunger strike for several days. He said they would rather die than be deported to Rwanda.
On Wednesday, charities that support asylum-seekers said they had documented a number of suicide attempts among those threatened with being sent to Rwanda.
An Iranian asylum-seeker, who attempted suicide, told charity workers she believed she faced being offshored to Rwanda. She was saved, admitted to hospital and survived.
A 40-year-old Yemeni asylum-seeker made a video addressed to UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Home Secretary Priti Patel stating that after he had arrived in the UK on April 13 and found out about the Rwanda offshoring plans he had “no other choice but to kill myself.”
The Home Office has said every step is taken to prevent self-harm and suicide at immigration removal centers.
On Tuesday, Patel announced that the first group of asylum-seekers who entered the UK without authorization would be deported to Rwanda on June 14.
KUALA LUMPUR: Every morning in the heart of Kuala Lumpur’s Chinatown, Ng Lee Yam begins the day by grinding soaked soybeans into the beverage that has gained him an almost cult following.
Kim Soya Bean, serving soymilk in Petaling Street, is on all foodie lists of must-visit spots in the Malaysian capital.
Behind the drink’s fame and taste is a labor of love and a special recipe Ng’s family developed over generations.
“We put a lot of heart and effort into making this soybean drink. We use traditional methods,” he told Arab News. “This soy drink stall has been around in Petaling Street for 80 to 90 years.”
Ng is aware of his fame, and newspaper clippings with photos and reviews of his stall decorate its display.
“Nowadays, people find us from YouTube, including overseas tourists, Americans, Canadians and more. They searched for us, Kim Soya. They showed me their phones and said to me ‘You are famous!’”
While Ng’s fame is undisputed, he is not the only celebrity vendor of Petaling Street, one of the most famous landmarks of Malaysia’s capital and the center of its original Chinatown.
Built by Cantonese and Hakka mine workers who migrated to the Malay Peninsula in the 19th century, Chinatown was one of the early settlements of Kuala Lumpur, and has long been an enclave of the Malaysian Chinese community — the second largest ethnic group in the country, after Malays.
Petaling Street begins behind a green arch decorated with wooden ornaments and Chinese motifs. The gateway is an entry into a bustling street market, where rows of red hanging lanterns are suspended across the way, and old architecture meets modern designer interiors, colorful murals and myriad stalls selling all kinds of goods and foods.
Like Ng, many of Petaling Street’s vendors have been around for decades. Lee Siok Han’s Hong Kee specializes in seafood and clay pot chicken.
“We have been in the business for more than 30 years, with three generations of family members selling food at the hawker stall,” Lee told Arab News.
People missed the flavor of her food when coronavirus lockdowns forced Hong Kee to close temporarily.
“A lot of tourists and locals come to eat at our stall,” Lee said, as her business, like many others in the neighborhood, is slowly regaining its pre-pandemic pace.
Han Yun, the owner of Mee Tarik, which specializes in handmade noodles and dumplings, said the business is “doing quite well.”
Every night, and especially during weekends, his restaurant is packed with guests looking for authentic Chinese treats.
“These are our traditional cuisines, originated from Lanzhou, China,” he said, while making a crispy Chinese scallion pancake. His guests are mainly locals, Muslim and non-Muslim, and he makes sure to cater to both by using halal ingredients.
Sister Lan, who runs a small juice stand with her husband, is more focused on foreigners. Her display with juicer machine, long stalks of sugarcane and a pile of coconuts is tucked between shops selling counterfeits of branded accessories — another famous sight in Petaling Street, where copies of all designer bags and watches can be found at a fraction of price of original goods.
Since Malaysia’s reopening two months ago, Lan’s juice sales have been back on track.
“There are a lot of tourists from many countries that come here to buy our drinks, including from India, Sri Lanka, the US and even China,” she said. “Tourists like natural fruits and they love to drink coconut drinks. They also like sugarcane drinks and are fascinated by the way we squeeze the juice.”
Tourists do indeed say they like the variety of flavors Malaysia’s cuisine has to offer, but there is more to it than that.
“The people are lovely, extremely friendly,” Rosalyn Sbeehy, who arrived in Kuala Lumpur from Ireland, told Arab News. “It is such a multicultural hotchpotch.”
LONDON: The UN’s refugee agency has rubbished UK claims that 70 percent of people arriving by small boat across the English Channel are “single men who are effectively economic migrants,” The Guardian reported on Thursday.
Home Secretary Priti Patel has pushed the idea that it is overwhelmingly single men seeking work who make the crossing, repeatedly referring to them as “migrants.”
However, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees said those arriving should be considered asylum seekers or refugees.
“Based on currently available Home Office data, the UN considers a clear majority of those recently arriving to the UK are likely to be refugees,” a spokesperson said.
“Refugees and asylum seekers are not, and should not be described as, ‘migrants.’ Access to asylum should never be contingent on mode of arrival or nationality.
“Equally, the only way to establish whether people are refugees is through a fair and efficient determination of their claims, for which the UK has a clear responsibility.”
The UNHCR’s comments come as the numbers coming from Afghanistan and Syria continue to climb.
Its intervention comes as Home Office staff begin sending out the first formal letters to those who arrived by small boat that they will be sent to Rwanda.
For those abandoned in Afghanistan, the UK’s position has not deterred them, with almost as many arriving in the first three months of 2022 as over the whole of last year, with a similar growth rate for Syrians.
Asked to justify the assertion that 70 percent of the 8,500 who made the crossing in 2020 were economic migrants, Patel said data showed that 87 percent were men and 74 percent were aged 18-39. She did not provide any evidence relating to the success of asylum claims.
An analysis of new government data showed that 77 percent of the men, women and children who arrived by small boat were likely refugees and would be allowed to remain if their claims were assessed.
Between the start of the year and April 14, some 4,850 people reached the UK by small boat, over 250 percent more than the same period in 2021.


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