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Trump sparks confusion after endorsing ‘Eric’ in Missouri GOP senate primary

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Two Erics are top contenders in Tuesday’s GOP primary for an open US Senate seat in Missouri.

But it wasn’t clear who former President Donald Trump backed even after he issued an endorsement in the race where Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt and former governor Eric Greitens are both running.

On the eve of the election, Trump said in a statement he was “proud to announce that ERIC has my Complete and Total Endorsement!”

“There is a BIG Election in the Great State of Missouri, and we must send a MAGA Champion and True Warrior to the U.S. Senate, someone who will fight for Border Security, Election Integrity, our Military and Great Veterans, together with having powerful toughness on Crime and the Border,” Trump stated.

“We need a person who will not back down to the Radical Left Lunatics who are destroying our Country.

“I trust the Great People of Missouri, on this one, to make up their own minds, much as they did when gave me landside victories in the 2016 and 2020 Elections, and I am therefore proud to announce that ERIC has my Complete and Total Endorsement!”

Both candidates were quick to claim and tout Trump’s support.

Schmitt, in a tweet, wrote, “I’m grateful for President Trump’s endorsement. As the only America First candidate who has actually fought for election integrity, border security & against the Left’s indoctrination of our kids – I’ll take that fight to the Senate to SAVE AMERICA!”

Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt was quick to claim Trump’s support after the former president’s confusing statement was released.
AP Photo/Jeff Roberson, File

Greitens also wrote he was “honored to receive President Trump’s endorsement.”

“From the beginning, I’ve been the true MAGA Champion fighting against the RINO establishment backing Schmitt,” he tweeted.

He also bragged about being backed by Donald Trump Jr. and his girlfriend, media personality Kimberly Guilfoyle, in a separate tweet.

Greitens also claimed he “just had a GREAT phone call with President Trump” and thanked him for the support.

Republican gubernatorial candidate Eric Greitens during the first general election debate in the race for Missouri governor at the Missouri Press Association convention Friday, Sept. 30, 2016, in Branson, Mo.
Former governor Eric Greitens also interpreted Trump’s statement as a sure endorsement of him.
AP Photo/Jeff Robersob

Schmitt hit back by reposting a tweet from conservative media personality Dan Bongino commenting on Greitens’ claim.

“Bulls—t. Read the endorsement. This dude is a FRAUD,” Bongino said in reference to Greitens.

Schmitt and Greitens are both vying to replace outgoing Sen. Roy Blunt. Schmitt is the favorite with an Emerson College poll last week showing him with about 33% of the predicted vote. After that, Rep. Vicky Hartzler had 21% and Greitens was in third with 16%.

Many national Republicans want Greitens to lose because of past scandals he was involved in, including charges of domestic abuse by his ex-wife.

While there’s a third candidate named Eric — Eric McElroy — also running, he is a long shot contender.

Still, Hartzler threw congratulations his way Monday.

“Congrats to Eric McElroy. He’s having a big night,” she said in statement, according to CBS News.



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Non-binary Biden nuclear official charged with stealing woman’s $2.3K luggage at airport

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A Biden administration employee – and one of the federal government’s first gender non-binary officials – has been accused of stealing a travelor’s luggage from the Minneapolis airport in September.

Sam Brinton, the deputy assistant secretary for spent fuel and waste disposition at the DOE’s Office of Nuclear Energy, was charged with felony theft after allegedly snatching a Vera Bradley suitcase reportedly worth $2,325 from baggage claim at the Minneapolis-St. Paul Airport on Sept. 16, according to court documents.

Brinton, who uses they/them pronouns, was captured on surveillance video grabbing the luggage and removing its ID tag identifying the owner, the filings state.

They were later seen using the Vera Bradley suitcase on at least two occasions, while traveling to Washington, DC on Sept. 18 and Oct. 9, investigators said.

Brinton initially denied stealing the suitcase to police officers, but later claimed they took it by mistake and still had it in their possession.

The incident occurred at Minneapolis-St. Paul Airport.
AFP via Getty Images
Sam Brinton
Sam Brinton, a senior Energy Department official, was charged with stealing a traveler’s luggage.
Department of Energy

“If I had taken the wrong bag, I am happy to return it, but I don’t have any clothes for another individual,” Brinton first told the officer. “That was my clothes when I opened the bag.”

However, Brinton called the officer back two hours after their first conversation and confessed to not being “completely honest.”

They said they accidentally grabbed the wrong bag at the luggage carousel due to exhaustion.

According to the court filings, Brinton said when they opened the bag at their hotel, they realized it wasn’t theirs, but got nervous someone would think they stole it and didn’t know what to do. They said they emptied the luggage and left the person’s clothes inside the drawers of a dresser in the hotel room.

The official was charged with felony theft of a moveable property without consent, as first reported by the local Minnesota outlet, Alpha News.

Brinton — who became one of the government’s first non-binary officials when taking the job — was placed on leave about a month ago following the accusations. 

Brinton -- who became one of the government’s first non-binary officials when taking the job -- was placed on leave about a month ago following the accusations. 
Brinton — who became one of the government’s first non-binary officials when taking the job — was placed on leave about a month ago following the accusations. 
Getty Images for The Trevor Proj

Another official was named as their interim replacement earlier this month, according to the Exchange Monitor which tracks government officials’ moves.

A spokesperson for the DOE confirmed Brinton’s leave to Fox News Digital.

If convicted, Brinton could face up to five years in prison and/or a $10,000 fine.

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China Regroups to Snuff Out a Wave of Protests

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After China experienced its boldest and most widespread protests in decades, defying Xi Jinping, a Communist Party leader who prizes his reputation for ironclad authority, his security apparatus is scrambling to reassert control.

Public security personnel and vehicles have blanketed potential protest sites. Police officers are searching some residents’ phones for prohibited apps. Officials are going to the homes of would-be protesters to warn them against illegal activities and are taking some away for questioning. Censors are scrubbing protest symbols and slogans from social media.

The campaign to quash the protests on multiple fronts draws on the party’s decades-old toolkit of repression and surveillance, which Mr. Xi has upgraded in pursuit of unshakable dominance. He has expanded the police forces, promoted loyal security leaders into key positions and declared that “political security” — for him and for the party — must be the bedrock of national security.

Yet even as Mr. Xi rolls out the police, he is projecting an unruffled appearance of business as usual.

He has stayed silent about the rare open challenge to his rule that erupted in the protests, including calls for him to step down. He appears to be wagering that by outwardly ignoring the demonstrations, he can sap their momentum while the security services move in and the party’s army of online loyalists try to discredit protesters as tools of American-led subversion.

“They’re saying as little as possible for as long as possible,” said William Hurst, a professor at the University of Cambridge who studies politics and protest in China. “If they speak, it could inflame the situation, so it’s better to sit back and pretend nothing is happening.”

On Tuesday, the People’s Daily, the party’s main newspaper, featured Mr. Xi’s talks with the visiting Mongolian president and a front-page celebration of Mr. Xi’s decade in power, but not a word about the protests, China’s most widespread since the Tiananmen Square pro-democracy movement of 1989.

Still, there seems no doubt that inside the guarded seclusion of the party’s Zhongnanhai leadership compound in Beijing, Mr. Xi and his advisers have been monitoring the unrest and plotting a response. Since the protests of 1989, Chinese leaders have fixated on the dangers of anti-government social movements, determined to nip them in the bud and avoid the trauma of another bloody crackdown.

Even so, the protests that broke out in parts of Shanghai, Beijing and other Chinese cities over the weekend appeared to catch leaders off guard.

The collective public anger first welled up in Urumqi, a city in western China where at least 10 people died in an apartment fire last week. Many people have said, despite official denials, that the deaths were caused by pandemic restrictions that prevented residents from leaving their apartment block. Protests over the tragedy escalated into wider denunciations of China’s pandemic policies, as well as calls from some for democracy, a free press and other ideals anathema to the country’s authoritarian rulers.

This week, China’s security forces have regrouped, making new demonstrations much more difficult and risky.

“I am pretty sure that the security apparatus will get this under control fairly quickly,” said H. Christoph Steinhardt, a scholar at the University of Vienna who studies patterns of protest in China. “I guess they will begin with identifying ringleaders and then leaning on them, combined with preventive policing in public areas.”

In Hangzhou, a prosperous city about 100 miles southwest of Shanghai, the police broke up an attempted demonstration on Monday night, shouting at passers-by and dragging away one woman who was screaming. Dozens of people also confronted officers who had detained someone, chanting “release them.”

In the southern city of Guangzhou, a hundred or so police officers wearing helmets and white protective clothing to possibly ward off Covid banged their clubs on their riot shields as they strode through a street, warning people not to hang around.

Officers across China have been visiting protesters’ homes or stopping possible ones on the street. They check their phones for apps banned in China, delete pictures of demonstrations and warn people not to take to the streets again.

“When the police came to my door, I had to delete my text records,” said a Beijing resident who joined a protest vigil near the Liangma River on Sunday night. She asked that only her surname, Chen, be used, citing fear of police reprisals.

Ms. Chen said she was motivated by grief and frustration with the stringent “zero Covid” policies that have been enforced for nearly three years, including citywide lockdowns and constant Covid tests.

“I really didn’t have any specific slogans and demands,” she said. “It was more about the pent-up pain of so many years.”

Officials appear to be trying to quietly address the most common of grievances about China’s Covid restrictions, which have disrupted life, schooling and business.

Many residents have complained about a 20-point set of rules issued by the government on Nov. 11, which at first seemed to promise an easing in pandemic restrictions. However, it has made little effect on the ground, where local officials are under enormous pressure to stifle Covid outbreaks.

Since the protests over the weekend, local governments across China have said that they will stop residents from being locked in their homes any longer than necessary to prevent expanding outbreaks. On Tuesday, an article from Xinhua, the main state news agency, urged officials to show compassion to frustrated residents.

“All areas and departments must be more patient in relieving the anxieties of the public,” the article said. “The fight against the pandemic is complex, arduous and repetitive, and we must listen to the sincere voice of the public.”

Avoiding any direct mention of the protests by Chinese leaders or in state media is likely a deliberate strategy to try to downplay their significance. In 1989, the students who occupied Tiananmen Square galvanized in fury after an editorial in the People’s Daily, the party’s mouthpiece, condemned them as being infiltrated by agents of turmoil. The unrest this time has not reached that scale, and officials appear to have learned their lesson.

“The moment that the central leadership takes an official line, they are dignifying the protests with an official response and admitting that they must be reckoned with, which gives them a status that they would rather deny them,” Prof. Hurst of Cambridge University said.

In Shanghai, Beijing and other cities, the police have bundled away some protesters. Some have been released after a couple of days in detention. Particular attention has been paid to university students. At Tsinghua University, a prestigious school in Beijing, shouts rang out from a crowd of hundreds of students for “democracy and rule of law” and “freedom of expression” in what was likely the boldest campus protest.

Tsinghua’s administrators said Sunday that students could leave early for their winter break and offered free train or air travel, a step that may have been intended to defuse fresh protests.

In China, such a response is considered restrained. But that may not last, and it does not mean that the Communist Party authorities will treat all protesters with leniency. Instead of speaking out directly, the party has allowed loyalists on social media to depict the protesters as pawns, witting or unwitting, of Western efforts to destabilize China and discredit its “zero Covid” policies.

Since Monday, a growing chorus of these online commentators have tied the protests to “color revolution,” a term borrowed from Russia to describe purported Western-backed plots to sow insurrection in rival states. Some have claimed the protesters are acolytes of those who shook Hong Kong in 2019, prompting Mr. Xi to impose a national security law there and a sweeping crackdown on anti-government activists.

“Their style in stirring up trouble is the typical color revolution way,” said one commentary about the weekend protests that spread on unofficial Chinese websites and social media. Protest leaders, it said, “were using their worst malice to agitate members of the public who don’t understand their true nature — especially university students and intellectuals whose heads are stuffed with Western ideas — to join in.”

In previous years, the authorities’ intimidation and the heavy police presence would likely have been enough to douse any incipient protest movement. This time, some protesters are vowing to keep pressing the Chinese government. On social media groups operating beyond China’s censorship firewall, they have swapped ideas for moving around in smaller clusters, using multiple phones, and figuring out how to track and share information about the movements of police.

But Mr. Xi’s security options are far from exhausted. China has about 2 million regular police officers — by some measures, relatively few for its 1.4 billion people — but also a million or more People’s Armed Police troops trained in suppressing unrest, as well as legions of security guards and auxiliary police officers. Ultimately, there is also the Chinese military. And as in the crackdown in Hong Kong, the Chinese authorities may make more arrests after the tumult subsides.

Edward Luo, a 23-year old who watched the protest in Shanghai on Sunday, said he was a student in Hong Kong during the 2019 protests and was worried that the young demonstrators in Shanghai did not grasp the risks they faced.

“I think that some people were unafraid, and there were some students who maybe don’t understand how much pressure this state can pile on them,” he said. “Like a newborn calf that isn’t afraid of a tiger.”

Joy Dong, Olivia Wang and Amy Chang Chien contributed reporting.



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Air Force to unveil its new B-21 Raider stealth bomber Friday

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The U.S. Air Force and Northrop Grumman plan to unveil the latest stealth aircraft called the B-21 Raider at the company’s facility in Palmdale, California, this Friday.

“The B-21 is the most advanced military aircraft ever built and is a product of pioneering innovation and technological excellence,” Dough Young, sector vice president and general manager at Northrop Grumman Aeronautics Systems said in a press release. “The Raider showcases the dedication and skills of the thousands of people working every day to deliver this aircraft.”

Northrop was awarded a contract in 2015 to design and build the world’s most advanced strike aircraft.

The B-21 was made using advanced manufacturing techniques and breakthrough stealth technology. It is a sixth-generation aircraft, which Northrop Corporate President Tom Jones said is “optimized for operations in highly contested environments.”

The plane, according to Northrop’s website, is designed to perform long-range conventional and nuclear missions.

The estimated cost to develop, purchase and operate 100 aircraft is estimated at $203 billion, or about $2 billion per plane.

Currently, the company has six aircraft being assembled in Palmdale and the first B-21 is set to take flight sometime in 2023, depending on ground test results.

The unveiling on Friday is by invitation only.

Northrop Grumman Corp develops and manufactures advanced aircraft systems. The Aeronautics Systems segment engages in the design, development, production, integration, sustainment, and modernization of advanced management systems, weapons systems and aircraft, and mission systems.

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