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Delhi The Buzz

SC committee to deliberate on three farm laws holds first meeting


Tribune News Service
New Delhi, January 19

The first meeting of the committee appointed by the Supreme Court to deliberate with concerned stakeholders on recently notified three farm laws was held on Tuesday.

Ashok Gulati, former chairman of the Commission for Agricultural Costs and Prices, Anil Ghanwat, president, Shetkari Sanghatana, and Pramod Joshi, former director for South Asia, International Food Policy Research Institute, participated in the meeting and discussed the roadmap of activities for the committee for two months to prepare their recommendations after discussion with farmers, farmers’ bodies, farmers’ unions and other stakeholders.

Addressing the media, Anil Ghanwat said as per the direction of the Supreme Court, the committee will hold discussion with farmers and farmers’ bodies in the country who are both pro and against the farm laws.

The committee will also hold discussions with state governments, state marketing boards and other stakeholders such as farmer producer organisations and Cooperatives, etc.

The committee will soon send invitations to the farmers unions and associations to discuss their views on farm laws.

Even individual farmer can submit his/her views on the portal to be notified soon.

The committee is keen to understand the opinion on the subject of all concerned so that it can give suggestions which will definitely be in the interests of the farmers of India.





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Canada

WHO emergency committee calls for more sequencing to fight more contagious variants

Geneva | The World Health Organization (WHO) emergency committee on Friday called on the international community to expand genome sequencing of the more contagious variants of the new coronavirus that raise fears of a resurgence of the pandemic.

Regarding variants, the Emergency Committee called for a global expansion of genomic sequencing and data sharing, as well as greater scientific collaboration to deal with “the serious unknowns” that remain, it said. organ of the WHO, which met the day before.

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Delhi The Buzz

Cabinet Committee on Security approves Tejas deal worth Rs 48,000 crore


New Delhi, January 13

In a major decision, the government on Wednesday approved the procurement of 83 indigenously-developed light combat aircraft Tejas for the Indian Air Force (IAF) at a cost of Rs 48,000 crore.

The decision was taken at a meeting of the Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS) chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh said.

In a tweet, Singh said the deal will be a “game-changer” for self-reliance in defence manufacturing in India.

“The CCS chaired by PM Sh. @narendramodi today approved the largest indigenous defence procurement deal worth about 48000 crores to strengthen IAF’s fleet of homegrown fighter jet ‘LCA-Tejas’,” he said.

The defence minister said Tejas is going to be the backbone of the fighter fleet of the Indian Air Force in years to come.

Around three years back, the IAF had issued an initial tender for procurement of 83 Tejas aircraft, a four-and-half generation combat jet.

“LCA-Tejas incorporates a large number of new technologies many of which were never attempted in India. The indigenous content of LCA-Tejas is 50 percent in Mk1A variant which will be enhanced to 60 percent,’ Singh said.

The defence minister said that aircraft maker Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd (HAL) has already set up second-line manufacturing facilities at its Nasik and Bengaluru divisions.

“Equipped with the augmented infrastructure the HAL will steer LCA-Mk1A production for timely deliveries to the IAF,” he said.

Singh said the Tejas programme would act as a catalyst for transforming the Indian aerospace manufacturing ecosystem into a vibrant, self-sustaining one.

“I thank the Prime Minister Shri @narendramodi for this historic decision taken by the CCS today, “ the defence minister said. PTI





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Headline USA Politics

Former House Oversight Committee chairman Jason Chaffetz calls on Dems to ‘cut reckless spending’

Jason Chaffetz on Wednesday called on Democrats to ‘cut out the pork and all the reckless spending’ from the COVID relief bill after President Donald Trump’s demand for $2,000 relief checks.

The former House Oversight Committee chairman was guest hosting Sean Hannity’s show on Fox News when he told viewers: ‘Congress has a choice to make.

‘Will they deliver needed aid to Americans struggling [in] the pandemic, or will they retreat to the old ways of Washington, where pork-packed projects, foreign nations, and the special interests take priority over the forgotten men and women of the United States of America?’ 

Trump’s demand for additional relief money for Americans blindsided all of Washington – members of both parties on Capitol Hill and several of his White House staff alike. 

The president’s last-minute objections are setting up a defining showdown with his own Republican Party in his final days in office. 

House GOP Leader Kevin McCarthy said it would not happen, telling his fellow Republicans on a conference call Wednesday that the unanimous consent request Nancy Pelosi plans for the $2,000 checks will not go through.

McCarthy’s approval would be needed to proceed with the unanimous consent request. Any objection to a unanimous consent renders it moot.  

Jason Chaffetz on Wednesday called on Democrats to ‘cut out the pork and all the reckless spending’ after President Donald Trump’s demand for $2,000 relief checks

Trump left Washington D.C. for Christmas at his Mar-a-Lago resort Wednesday afternoon – less than 24 hours after releasing a video on Twitter suggesting he would veto the finally negotiated COVID-19 aid package, which is attached to a government funding bill. 

He had called the aid package a ‘disgrace’ and later vetoed the National Defense Authorization Act telling Congress he couldn’t sign the bill for a number of reasons, including that it sought to rename military bases named after Confederate figures.

Trump later retweeted his 2014 post about government waste which read: ‘I hope we never find life on other planets because there’s no doubt that the U.S. Government will start sending them money!’ 

Trump later retweeted this 2014 post about government waste

Trump later retweeted this 2014 post about government waste

Chaffetz said Wednesday: ‘President Trump was elected to be a disruptive force. He was never a ‘go along to get along’ politician.

‘Time and time again, President Trump has made it clear that he hears the call from American people to stand up to the political class and he hears calls to buck the status quo and to stand up to special interests. His only priority has been that of the American people.’

Chaffetz finished by telling viewers: ‘Here’s the core question. 

‘Will they also agree to cut out the pork and all the reckless spending in the legislation? They probably won’t. Unfortunately, wasteful spending and misplaced priorities are nothing new inside the Democrats’ ever-growing far-left wishlist.’

Trump left Washington D.C. for Christmas at his Mar-a-Lago resort with Melania Wednesday afternoon – less than 24 hours after releasing a video on Twitter suggesting he would veto the finally negotiated COVID-19 aid package, which is attached to a government funding bill

Trump left Washington D.C. for Christmas at his Mar-a-Lago resort with Melania Wednesday afternoon – less than 24 hours after releasing a video on Twitter suggesting he would veto the finally negotiated COVID-19 aid package, which is attached to a government funding bill

Trump has five days to sign the package or else the government will shut down, which is what lawmakers were working so hard to avoid. 

Up until Tuesday night, all signs pointed to the bill’s immediate passage with Trump’s signature once it finally reached his desk.

Legislative affairs staffers in the White House and others involved in the negotiations had no idea Trump was taping the video and apologized to the surprised lawmakers.

Both houses had easily passed the bill – 359-53 in the House and 91-7 in the Senate – both far above the two-thirds which would be needed to override a veto, but there may not be enough time in the Congressional calendar to fix it. 

COVID Stimulus Bill Breakdown 

 The $900billion stimulus plan Congress approved Monday would provide direct aid to citizens as well as aid to businesses.

Provisions include:

  • Direct payments of $600 to most adults and $600 per child. The check amount decreases for those who earned more than $75,000 in the 2019 tax year, and will not go out at all to those who made more than 99,000
  • A $300 unemployment supplement while retaining pandemic-era programs that expanded unemployment insurance eligibility. The benefit could kick in by Dec. 27 and run through March 14
  • $284 billion for government payroll loans, including expanded eligibility for nonprofits and local newspapers and TV and radio broadcasters. This includes $15 billion for live venues, independent movie theaters, and cultural institutions and $20 billion for targeted disaster grants
  • $82 billion for colleges and schools, including support for heating-and-cooling systems upgrades to mitigate virus transmission and reopen classrooms, and $10 billion for child care assistance
  • $45 billion for transportation assistance, including $15 billion to U.S. passenger airlines for payroll assistance, $14 billion for transit systems, $10 billion for state highway funding and $1 billion for Amtrak passenger railroad
  • $25 billion for rental assistance for families struggling to stay in their homes, and an extension of the eviction moratorium.
  • $26 billion for food/farm assistance. Increases food stamp benefits by 15% and provides funding to food banks, Meals on Wheels and other food aid. Provides an equal amount ($13 billion) in aid to farmers and ranchers.
  • Expanded Pell Grants for college tuition, which would reach 500,000 new recipients and provide the maximum benefit for more than 1.5 million students
  • Provides $10 billion to the Child Care Development Block Grant to help families with child care costs and help providers cover increased operating costs.
  • $7 billion for broadband internet access, including $1.9 billion to replace telecom network equipment that poses national security risks
  • $4 billion for an international vaccine alliance
  • Forgives a $10 billion loan to the Postal Service provided in earlier relief legislation
  • Contains bipartisan legislation to protect consumers from huge surprise medical bills after receiving treatment from out-of-network providers
  • Extends a variety of expiring tax breaks, including lower excise taxes of crafter brewers and distillers. Renewable energy sources would see tax breaks extended, as would motorsport facilities, and people making charitable contributions. Business meals would be 100% deductible through 2022

 

Trump did not specifically vow to use his veto power, and there may be enough support in Congress to override him if he does. 

But the consequences would be severe if Trump upends the legislation. It would mean no federal aid to struggling Americans and small businesses, and no additional resources to help with vaccine distribution. 

To top it off, because lawmakers linked the pandemic relief bill to an overarching funding measure, the government would shut down on Dec. 29.

The final text of the more than 5,000-page bill was still being prepared by Congress and was not expected to be sent to the White House for Trump’s signature before Thursday or Friday, an aide said.

That complicates the schedule ahead. If Trump vetoes the package, or allows it to expire with a “pocket veto” at the end of the year, Americans will go without massive amounts of COVID aid.

A resolution could be forced Monday. That’s when a stopgap funding bill Congress approved to keep the government funded while the paperwork was being compiled expires, risking a federal shutdown.

Democrats are considering another stopgap measure to at least keep government running until Biden is sworn into office Jan. 20, according to two aides granted anonymity to discuss the private talks.

The House was already set to return Monday, and the Senate Tuesday, for a vote to override Trump’s veto of the must-pass defense bill. Democrats may try again at that time to pass Trump’s proposal for $2,000 checks, as well as the temporary government funding measure to avert a shutdown, the aides said.

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Headline USA New York Politics

AOC loses out on prestigious committee role after secret ballot

AOC loses out on prestigious committee role after secret ballot of her fellow House Democrats after calling for ‘new leadership’ and feuding with Joe Manchin

  • Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez lost a race for a seat on the prestigious House Energy and Commerce Committee 
  • Democrats voted overwhelmingly for fellow New York Democrat, Rep. Kathleen Rice, in a secret ballot 
  • Moderate Democrats openly criticized the progressive star on a video call, upset that she had backed some of their primary challengers  

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez lost a race for a seat on the prestigious House Energy and Commerce Committee, as colleagues through a secret ballot voted overwhelmingly for fellow New York Democratic Rep. Kathleen Rice. 

Politico reported Thursday that the two New York Democrats were forced to fight over a final seat on the committee, which oversees big policy areas like climate change and healthcare. 

During a video call, moderate Democrats took on AOC prior to the vote, as she’s called for ‘new leadership’ in her party and gotten in a public feud with fellow Democrat, Sen. Joe Manchin. 

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez lost a race for a seat on the prestigious House Energy and Commerce Committee, when Democrats voted overwhelmingly for Rep. Kathleen Rice in a secret ballot 

Rep. Kathleen Rice

Sen. Joe Manchin

Rep. Kathleen Rice (left), a New York Democrat, bested AOC to get a seat on the House Energy and Commerce Committee. In recent weeks, Ocasio-Cortez has called for fresh party leadership and feuded with Sen. Joe Manchin (right) 

During a private meeting of the Steering and Policy Committee – where members secretly voted 46 to 13 in favor of Rice – Democrats called out Ocasio-Cortez for supporting progressive primary challengers over House incumbents, Politico reported. 

‘I’m taking into account who works against other members in primaries and who doesn’t,’ said Rep. Henry Cuellar, a Texas Democrat who faced the AOC-backed primary opponent, Jessica Cisneros, according to the newsite. 

AOC also got called out for refusing to pay party campaign dues.   

Ocasio-Cortez withheld money to the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee over its policy to ‘blacklist’ political firms and vendors who support Democratic primary challengers. 

Most members of the New York delegation signed statements of support for both Ocasio-Cortez and Rice, with the exception of House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler, who only signed AOC’s document, Politico reported. 

While a superstar on the left, Ocasio-Cortez has long ruffled the feathers of more moderate Democrats. 

She was in a weeks-long back-and-forth with Manchin of West Virginia, taking umbrage when he said, ‘She’s more active on Twitter than anything else.’ 

‘I find it amusing when politicians try to diminish the seriousness of our policy work, movement organizing and grassroots fundraising to “she just tweets,” as though “serious” politics is only done by begging corporate CEOs for money through wax-sealed envelopes delivered by raven,’ Ocasio-Cortez shot back.  

AOC sent out a tweet showing her staring daggers into the back of moderate Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin's head, during their weeks-long feud, which showed the left-moderate divide of the current Democratic Party

AOC sent out a tweet showing her staring daggers into the back of moderate Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin’s head, during their weeks-long feud, which showed the left-moderate divide of the current Democratic Party 

More recently she suggested there should be new leadership at the top of the caucus, during an appearance on The Intercept’s ‘Intercepted’ podcast. 

First, she talked about being disillusioned by the party before running for a Congressional seat. 

‘You know, for me personally it was when I was waitressing, and I would hear Democrats talk about why the Affordable Care Act was so amazing all the time and how this is the greatest thing ever, and the economy was doing wonderfully,’ she recalled. ‘And frankly, it is the same trick that Trump pulls, which is, you know, people touting the Dow as a measure of economic success, when we’re all getting killed out here.’ 

‘And so, you know, do we need new leadership of the Democratic Party? Absolutely,’ she said. ‘But how do we ensure that when we shift, we don’t even move further to the right?’    

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Technology US

Moderna’s coronavirus vaccine gets sign-off from independent FDA committee

An independent committee of experts recommended that the Food and Drug Administration authorize the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine for people 18 and older. This is the second COVID-19 vaccine to go before the committee — the first, made by Pfizer and BioNTech, was authorized last week. The agency is expected to issue an authorization for Moderna’s vaccine within a day or two.

“This is a really opportune time for us to move science forward,” said Hayley Gans, a committee member and professor of pediatrics at Stanford University Medical Center, during the committee’s deliberations. The evidence available for benefits of the vaccine outweighs any issues, she said. “That really supports us being able to, with the pandemic in the background, really move forward, and finally provide a safe and effective way to get to herd immunity.”

The FDA’s review of the vaccine ahead of the meeting confirmed that it’s safe and 94 percent effective at preventing symptomatic COVID-19, all but guaranteeing a vote of confidence. The Vaccines and Related Biological Products Advisory Committee (VRBPAC), which met to discuss the data, spent the day discussing the additional questions remaining around the vaccine and how Moderna should handle vaccinations in the placebo group of its clinical trial.

Moderna said during its presentation that the company plans to offer vaccines to people in the placebo arm quickly. Pfizer and BioNTech, on the other hand, plan to wait for participants in the placebo group to become eligible under their vaccine prioritization plans before telling them of their placebo status. Moderna would vaccinate this group with doses set aside for the clinical trial, which the company argues means study participants aren’t cutting in line.

Telling the placebo group that they did, in fact, receive a placebo limits the ability to continue to study the vaccine in a blinded clinical trial — which worries the VRBPAC, which would want to collect data for as long as possible. The pharmaceutical companies, though, both said they think they have a responsibility to offer vaccines to the placebo group.

The committee also pointed to a handful of issues the clinical trials still haven’t addressed. Moderna still doesn’t know, for example, if the vaccine can protect against asymptomatic cases of COVID-19 — stopping infection with the coronavirus entirely — or if it just prevents symptoms. Early data from Moderna hints that it could block asymptomatic infection. Trial participants who didn’t have symptoms were tested for the coronavirus between their first and second dose. People who took the vaccine were less likely to test positive than people in the placebo group. More answers on that question are coming in January, Moderna said.

Moderna is still analyzing data collected after it submitted the vaccine for authorization. There were 450 more cases of disease reported in the trial after that submission, and that will add to the understanding of the vaccine’s efficacy.

As this vaccine and the Pfizer and BioNTech vaccine are distributed throughout the country, the pharmaceutical companies and federal agencies will track how well they work and how safe they are in the real world. Already, regulators are finding effects that weren’t seen in clinical trials — a handful of allergic reactions and cases of anaphylaxis were reported in the US and United Kingdom in people vaccinated with the Pfizer and BioNTech vaccine, for example. The FDA is investigating the US incidents.

Developing…

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UAE

UAE hosts 22nd meeting of IORA’s Committee of Senior Officials

UAE flag.
Image Credit: WAM

The UAE hosted on Wednesday the 22nd meeting of the Committee of Senior Officials of the Indian Ocean Rim Association (IORA) member states virtually.

The meeting was presided over by Abdul Nasser Al Shaali, Assistant Minister for Economic and Trade Affairs at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation.

The Committee’s meeting precedes the 20th IORA Council of Ministers’ (COM) meeting, to be held on Thursday virtually.

The COM meeting will address a number of priority topics within the UAE’s plan as Chair of the Association. An interactive Dialogue Session between senior officials and dialogue partners will focus on human development within IORA states.

The UAE assumed the position of the IORA Chair in November 2019 during the 19th COM and adopted the theme of “Promoting a Shared Destiny and Path to Prosperity in the Indian Ocean” for its Chairship from 2019 – 2021.

IORA was established in 1997 with the aim of promoting regional cooperation, prosperity, and growth in the Indian Ocean region through joint action according to key themes, namely maritime security and safety, the facilitation of trade and investment, fisheries management, disaster risk management, tourism and cultural exchange, academic, scientific and technological cooperation, the economic empowerment of women, and the Blue Economy.

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Delhi The Buzz

Forming new committee no solution: Protesting farmer leaders on SC suggestion


New Delhi, December 16

Protesting farmer unions on Wednesday said constituting a new panel to break the stalemate on the three new agri laws, as indicated by the Supreme Court, is not a solution as they want a complete withdrawal of the legislations.

They also said the government should have formed a committee of farmers and others before the laws were enacted by Parliament.

Their assertions came after the Supreme Court indicated earlier in the day that it may form a panel having representatives of the government and farmer unions to resolve the deadlock.

Abhimanyu Kohar, a leader of the Rashtriya Kisan Mazdoor Sabha which is one of 40 protesting farmer unions, said they have already rejected a recent government offer to form such a panel.

“Setting up a new committee by the court is not a solution. We just want a complete repeal of the three agriculture laws. Earlier, there have been several rounds of talks between a group of Central ministers and farmer unions, which was like a committee itself,” Kohar told PTI.

Taking to Twitter, Swaraj India leader Yogendra Yadav, who is also a member ‘Sankyukt Kisan Morcha’, said, “The SC can and must decide on the constitutionality of the 3 farm acts. But it is not for the judiciary to decide on the feasibility and desirability of these laws. That’s between the farmers and their elected leaders. SC monitored negotiation would be a wrong path.”

In another tweet, he said, “This amounts to resurrecting a proposal made by the Govt on 1st December which farmers organisations had rejected unanimously.” The Sankyukt Kisan Morcha is an umbrella body of 40 protesting farmer unions.

Bhartiya Kisan Union (Ekta Ugrahan), which has been leading the agitation at Tikri Border, said there would be no meaning of a new committee now.

“We will be in the new committee only after the government first repeals the three laws. The government should have formed a committee of farmers and others before enacting the new agriculture laws. There will be no meaning of new committee at this stage,” BKU Ekta Ugrahan’s Punjab general secretary Sukhdev Singh said.

However, Bharatiya Kisan Union leader Rakesh Tikait said, “We have only seen media reports about the SC order as of now. We want to first see an authentic copy of the order and then see what the government has to say. Only then can we comment on this.”

Earlier in the day, the Supreme Court indicated that it may form a committee having representatives of the government and farmer unions across the country to resolve the deadlock.

The top court was hearing a batch of applications seeking a direction to authorities to immediately remove the farmers from the roads, saying commuters were facing hardships due to the blockades and the gatherings might lead to an increase in the number of COVID-19 cases.

“Your negotiations have not worked apparently. It is bound to fail. You are saying you are willing to negotiate,” a bench headed by Chief Justice S A Bobde told Solicitor General Tushar Mehta.

Mehta, who is representing the Centre, replied, “Yes, we are willing to talk to farmers.”

Thousands of farmers have been camping at Delhi border points for the last 20 days now in protest against the three laws that they claim will lead to a dismantling of the mandi system and the Minimum Support Price mechanism, apprehensions that the government has been saying are misplaced.

On Tuesday, the leaders of the agitating farmers had asserted they will “make” the Centre repeal the three new agri laws in a hardening of their stand.

Enacted in September, the three farm laws have been projected by the government as major reforms in the agriculture sector that will remove the middlemen and allow farmers to sell anywhere in the country. PTI





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California Headline USA Ohio Politics

GOP leaders demand Pelosi remove Eric Swalwell from intelligence committee over Fang Fang scandal

House Republicans have signed a letter demanding that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi remove Rep. Eric Swalwell from the Intelligence Committee over his ‘classified’ friendship with with Chinese spy Fang Fang, also known as Christine Fang.

Swalwell’s position on Intel Committee poses ‘an unacceptable national security risk’, according to the letter signed by House Republicans, including Minority Whip Steve Scalise of Louisiana and Republican Conference Chairwoman Liz Cheney of Wyoming.

Swalwell, a California Democrat, has refused to say whether he was intimate with Fang during their friendship from 2012 to 2015, asserting the matter is classified, and Pelosi has already backed him, saying she has no concerns.

‘For consistency’s sake, and more importantly, for the sake of our national security, you must remove Rep. Swalwell from his position’ on the committee, the GOP letter urged.

Christine Fang is seen with business owner Andrew Ly (left) and Rep. Eric Swalwell in a 2013 photo. House GOP leaders are asking Pelosi to remove Swalwell from the Intel Committee

Pelosi has already backed Swalwell, saying she has no concerns

Pelosi has already backed Swalwell, saying she has no concerns

Swalwell’s close relationship with Fang was first revealed to the public in a report from Axios last week, though Pelosi and Republican House Leader Kevin McCarthy were both briefed on the matter in 2015.

Swalwell, who represents a Bay area district and also sits on the House Judiciary Committee, has refused to confirm or deny sleeping with Fang before he was tipped off in 2015 that she was a Chinese agent.

She fled the country as the FBI investigated her and her infiltration efforts, which also saw her become friendly with other California politicians and have sex with two mayors from the Midwest, in encounters caught by FBI surveillance. 

But Swalwell said he was the victim – and suggested his high-profile pursuit of President Donald Trump was the reason he was targeted with the leak.

‘I hope it is investigated into who leaked this information,’ Swalwell told CNN last week. Axios, which first revealed the story, said it had been investigating it since 2019.

‘At the same time this story was being leaked out is the time that I was working on impeachment on the House Intelligence and Judiciary Committees,’ the California Democratic representative said. 

Minority Whip Steve Scalise of Louisiana

Republican Conference Chairwoman Liz Cheney of Wyoming

Minority Whip Steve Scalise of Louisiana and Republican Conference Chairwoman Liz Cheney of Wyoming were among those who signed the letter to Pelosi

Christine Fang is seen in photos from her Facebook page. Accused Chinese government spy Fang Fang, a k a Christine Fang, entered the US through California as a college student in 2011 - and spent the next four years wooing everyone from local politicos to US congressmen

Christine Fang is seen in photos from her Facebook page. Accused Chinese government spy Fang Fang, a k a Christine Fang, entered the US through California as a college student in 2011 – and spent the next four years wooing everyone from local politicos to US congressmen

The GOP letter pointed to Pelosi’s own attacks on former Attorney General Jeff Sessions for two meetings with the Russian ambassador, and Sessions’ subsequent self-recusal from the Trump-Russia investigation.

‘By your own standards, Congressman Swalwell is unfit to serve on the Intelligence Committee,’ the letter said.

However, Pelosi has already signaled her support for Swalwell and rebuffed calls for her to reassess his committee assignments.

‘I don’t have any concern about Mr Swalwell,’ she said last week. ‘There are those who believe, and I am among them, that we should be seeing what influenced the Chinese – I have been fighting them, as you know, for over 30 years.’ 

Pelosi said there was a need for closer examination of Chinese activities ‘in terms of their undue influence at universities in our country and the overtures they’ve tried to make to members of Congress’.

But she did not demand extra background checks on interns, and said she knew five years ago about the involvement of Christine Fang – who also goes by Fang Fang – with Swalwell.

‘I think we should make sure that everybody knows what they are being subjected to. But I don’t know that it means that we have to background check every intern who comes into the Capitol,’ she said. 

‘When that was made known to the members of Congress, it was over. 

‘That was the end of any communication with those people.’

Swalwell is a member of the House Intelligence Committee and a fierce critic of Trump's

Swalwell is a member of the House Intelligence Committee and a fierce critic of Trump’s 

Swalwell has been revealed as having a years-long friendship with Fang Fang

Swalwell has been revealed as having a years-long friendship with Fang Fang

Fang was in the United States from 2011 to 2015 posing as a Democratic fundraiser and got close to Swalwell and several others

Republican House Leader Kevin McCarthy said that Swalwell needs to be kicked off the House Intelligence Committee for his relationship with Fang.

But Pelosi defended Swalwell, a Democratic congressman from her home state of California, saying McCarthy was ‘trying to deflect attention’ from the fact the Republicans had a member of their party who believed in the QAnon conspiracy theories.

She pointed out that McCarthy, like her, learnt in 2015 about Fang’s spying when they were both briefed by the intelligence agencies.

Fang is said to have taken part in fundraising for Swalwell’s 2014 reelection campaign, however she did not make any donations and there was no evidence of any illegal contributions.

Fang’s earliest known engagement with Swalwell occurred through the Chinese Student Association, Axios reported, and by 2014, she had developed ‘close ties’ to Swalwell’s office.

Fang is also reported to have managed to place at least one intern in Swalwell’s office and met with him at various events over the years.

Swalwell was single at the time of Fang’s secret mission in the United States, and did not marry his wife Brittany until 2016.

Fang met Swalwell in 2012, when her cover was a student in the Bay Area and became involved in activism and politics, moving on to fundraising activities. 

Intelligence agencies were so concerned about Fang’s involvement in Swalwell’s office that they organized a briefing for Swalwell, and he said after that briefing he severed ties with her immediately. 

Fang and Swalwell were frequently together, with her serving as a fundraiser for him

Fang and Swalwell were frequently together, with her serving as a fundraiser for him

GOP Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner filed a complaint last week to the House Ethics Committee demanding the panel ‘immediately open an investigation’ into the matter.

‘Rep. Swalwell repeatedly refuses to answer any questions about these allegations, including whether he alerted then-Leader Pelosi to the potential compromise when she appointed him’ to the House Intelligence Committee,’ Sensenbrenner wrote.

‘It is unknown how much private and/or classified information Fang had access to as a result of her relationship with Rep. Swalwell and whether Rep. Swalwell was compromised as a relationship with her,’ Sensenbrenner wrote as he requested the investigation. 

He added: ‘Allowing an international spy to forge a close relationship with a member of Congress and then allowing personnel decisions to be influenced by a Chinese national does not reflect creditably on the House.’

Sensenbrenner said that the reports ‘should be sufficient’ for the House Ethics Committee to start an investigation. 

The committee, the chair and ranking member will now have 14 calendar days, or five legislative days, to decide whether there is enough information under which an investigation can take place. 

If the requirements are met then a decision must be made within 45 days as to whether the complaint warrants further investigation through an investigative subcommittee or that it be disposed of.  

THE FANG FANG MYSTERY – WHAT WE KNOW AND WHAT WE DON’T KNOW 

WHO IS ‘CHRISTINE’ FANG FANG?

Fang – if that is her real name – arrived in the U.S. as a Chinese national student at Cal State East Bay in 2011 as an undergraduate – although she appeared to be in her late 20s or early 30s. She became president of the Chinese Student Association then used her position to become part of the area’s Democratic political scene.

HOW DID SHE MEET SWALWELL?

Sometime in 2012, although exactly how is unclear but she was almost ubiquitous at political events – not just Democratic ones – in the Bay area between 2013 and 2015. Swalwell won his district in 2013, and before that was a member of the Dublin City Council. Pictures of them together are all at political events in the Bay area.

DID THEY HAVE SEX?

He refuses to say, saying their relationship is a matter of national security. If the FBI was following her and bugging her, they may have a good idea of whether the two did or not – but they could not legally have eavesdropped on him as a congressman, and if they did so intentionally, that would be a major breach of the law. Swalwell was divorced from his first wife by 2012 and married his second wife, Brittany Watts, in 2016.

HOW DID THE FBI FIND HER OUT?

Fang seems to have been monitored since she was a student but exactly when the FBI surveillance operation started is unknown. It is known that she had contact with a suspected Chinese intelligence officer stationed at its San Francisco consulate. Diplomatic communications are routinely monitored.

WHO ELSE DID SHE ENSNARE?

Fang had sex with two unnamed mayors, one of an ‘obscure’ Ohio city (anywhere with a population of more than 5,000 in Ohio is a city) and one an ‘older’ mayor from the midwest. They had sex in a car but he claimed he was teaching her English. Both encounters were overheard by the FBI. She is also Facebook friends with current and former mayors and attended get-togethers for urban leaders.

WHY WASN’T SHE ARRESTED?

It is unclear but counter-intelligence operations by the FBI are often intended to simply disrupt enemy spying and get them out of the country. Fang seems to have known she was compromised when she vanished in 2015.

DID SWALWELL DO ANYTHING WRONG?

So far the leaked FBI investigation and Swalwell’s own account is clear that he acted properly, cutting ties with her when the FBI told her she was a danger to national security. However her lingering presence in his family’s Facebook friendship circuit must raise questions about the extent to which he cut ties.

WHY DIDN’T WE KNOW ABOUT THIS BEFORE?

The FBI keeps its secrets close to its vest and disrupting a spy who was targeting at least two members of Congress would have been a major coup for its counter-intelligence agents. Letting China know just how much the agency had come to understand of Fang’s activities in her four years in the U.S. helps them hone their espionage in future to make it more difficult to detect.

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GOP leaders demand Peolsi remove Eric Swalwell from intelligence committee over Fang Fang scandal

House Republicans have signed a letter demanding that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi remove Rep. Eric Swalwell from the Intelligence Committee over his ‘classified’ friendship with with Chinese spy Fang Fang, also known as Christine Fang.

Swalwell’s position on Intel Committee poses ‘an unacceptable national security risk’, according to the letter signed by House Republicans, including Minority Whip Steve Scalise of Louisiana and Republican Conference Chairwoman Liz Cheney of Wyoming.

Swalwell, a California Democrat, has refused to say whether he was intimate with Fang during their friendship from 2012 to 2015, asserting the matter is classified, and Pelosi has already backed him, saying she has no concerns.

‘For consistency’s sake, and more importantly, for the sake of our national security, you must remove Rep. Swalwell from his position’ on the committee, the GOP letter urged.

Christine Fang is seen with business owner Andrew Ly (left) and Rep. Eric Swalwell in a 2013 photo. House GOP leaders are asking Pelosi to remove Swalwell from the Intel Committee

Pelosi has already backed Swalwell, saying she has no concerns about Fang Fang

Pelosi has already backed Swalwell, saying she has no concerns about Fang Fang

Swalwell’s close relationship with Fang was first revealed to the public in a report from Axios last week, though Pelosi and Republican House Leader Kevin McCarthy were both briefed on the matter in 2015.

Swalwell, who represents a Bay area district and also sits on the House Judiciary Committee, has refused to confirm or deny sleeping with Fang before he was tipped off in 2015 that she was a Chinese agent.

She fled the country as the FBI investigated her and her infiltration efforts, which also saw her become friendly with other California politicians and have sex with two mayors from the Midwest, in encounters caught by FBI surveillance. 

But Swalwell said he was the victim – and suggested his high-profile pursuit of President Donald Trump was the reason he was targeted with the leak.

‘I hope it is investigated into who leaked this information,’ Swalwell told CNN last week. Axios, which first revealed the story, said it had been investigating it since 2019.

‘At the same time this story was being leaked out is the time that I was working on impeachment on the House Intelligence and Judiciary Committees,’ the California Democratic representative said. 

Minority Whip Steve Scalise of Louisiana

Republican Conference Chairwoman Liz Cheney of Wyoming

Minority Whip Steve Scalise of Louisiana and Republican Conference Chairwoman Liz Cheney of Wyoming were among those who signed the letter to Pelosi

Christine Fang is seen in photos from her Facebook page. Accused Chinese government spy Fang Fang, a k a Christine Fang, entered the US through California as a college student in 2011 - and spent the next four years wooing everyone from local politicos to US congressmen

Christine Fang is seen in photos from her Facebook page. Accused Chinese government spy Fang Fang, a k a Christine Fang, entered the US through California as a college student in 2011 – and spent the next four years wooing everyone from local politicos to US congressmen

The GOP letter pointed to Pelosi’s own attacks on former Attorney General Jeff Sessions for two meetings with the Russian ambassador, and Sessions’ subsequent self-recusal from the Trump-Russia investigation.

‘By your own standards, Congressman Swalwell is unfit to serve on the Intelligence Committee,’ the letter said.

However, Pelosi has already signaled her support for Swalwell and rebuffed calls for her to reassess his committee assignments.

‘I don’t have any concern about Mr Swalwell,’ she said last week. ‘There are those who believe, and I am among them, that we should be seeing what influenced the Chinese – I have been fighting them, as you know, for over 30 years.’ 

Pelosi said there was a need for closer examination of Chinese activities ‘in terms of their undue influence at universities in our country and the overtures they’ve tried to make to members of Congress’.

But she did not demand extra background checks on interns, and said she knew five years ago about the involvement of Christine Fang – who also goes by Fang Fang – with Swalwell.

‘I think we should make sure that everybody knows what they are being subjected to. But I don’t know that it means that we have to background check every intern who comes into the Capitol,’ she said. 

‘When that was made known to the members of Congress, it was over. 

‘That was the end of any communication with those people.’

Swalwell is a member of the House Intelligence Committee and a fierce critic of Trump's

Swalwell is a member of the House Intelligence Committee and a fierce critic of Trump’s 

Swalwell has been revealed as having a years-long friendship with Fang Fang

Swalwell has been revealed as having a years-long friendship with Fang Fang

Fang was in the United States from 2011 to 2015 posing as a Democratic fundraiser and got close to Swalwell and several others

Republican House Leader Kevin McCarthy said that Swalwell needs to be kicked off the House Intelligence Committee for his relationship with Fang.

But Pelosi defended Swalwell, a Democratic congressman from her home state of California, saying McCarthy was ‘trying to deflect attention’ from the fact the Republicans had a member of their party who believed in the QAnon conspiracy theories.

She pointed out that McCarthy, like her, learnt in 2015 about Fang’s spying when they were both briefed by the intelligence agencies.

Fang is said to have taken part in fundraising for Swalwell’s 2014 reelection campaign, however she did not make any donations and there was no evidence of any illegal contributions.

Fang’s earliest known engagement with Swalwell occurred through the Chinese Student Association, Axios reported, and by 2014, she had developed ‘close ties’ to Swalwell’s office.

Fang is also reported to have managed to place at least one intern in Swalwell’s office and met with him at various events over the years.

Swalwell was single at the time of Fang’s secret mission in the United States, and did not marry his wife Brittany until 2016.

Fang met Swalwell in 2012, when her cover was a student in the Bay Area and became involved in activism and politics, moving on to fundraising activities. 

Intelligence agencies were so concerned about Fang’s involvement in Swalwell’s office that they organized a briefing for Swalwell, and he said after that briefing he severed ties with her immediately. 

Fang and Swalwell were frequently together, with her serving as a fundraiser for him

Fang and Swalwell were frequently together, with her serving as a fundraiser for him

The Chinese 'honeypot' spy used romance to lure US politicians into her orbit

The Chinese ‘honeypot’ spy used romance to lure US politicians into her orbit

GOP Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner filed a complaint last week to the House Ethics Committee demanding the panel ‘immediately open an investigation’ into the matter.

‘Rep. Swalwell repeatedly refuses to answer any questions about these allegations, including whether he alerted then-Leader Pelosi to the potential compromise when she appointed him’ to the House Intelligence Committee,’ Sensenbrenner wrote.

‘It is unknown how much private and/or classified information Fang had access to as a result of her relationship with Rep. Swalwell and whether Rep. Swalwell was compromised as a relationship with her,’ Sensenbrenner wrote as he requested the investigation. 

He added: ‘Allowing an international spy to forge a close relationship with a member of Congress and then allowing personnel decisions to be influenced by a Chinese national does not reflect creditably on the House.’

Sensenbrenner said that the reports ‘should be sufficient’ for the House Ethics Committee to start an investigation. 

The committee, the chair and ranking member will now have 14 calendar days, or five legislative days, to decide whether there is enough information under which an investigation can take place. 

If the requirements are met then a decision must be made within 45 days as to whether the complaint warrants further investigation through an investigative subcommittee or that it be disposed of.  

THE FANG FANG MYSTERY – WHAT WE KNOW AND WHAT WE DON’T KNOW 

WHO IS ‘CHRISTINE’ FANG FANG?

Fang – if that is her real name – arrived in the U.S. as a Chinese national student at Cal State East Bay in 2011 as an undergraduate – although she appeared to be in her late 20s or early 30s. She became president of the Chinese Student Association then used her position to become part of the area’s Democratic political scene.

HOW DID SHE MEET SWALWELL?

Sometime in 2012, although exactly how is unclear but she was almost ubiquitous at political events – not just Democratic ones – in the Bay area between 2013 and 2015. Swalwell won his district in 2013, and before that was a member of the Dublin City Council. Pictures of them together are all at political events in the Bay area.

DID THEY HAVE SEX?

He refuses to say, saying their relationship is a matter of national security. If the FBI was following her and bugging her, they may have a good idea of whether the two did or not – but they could not legally have eavesdropped on him as a congressman, and if they did so intentionally, that would be a major breach of the law. Swalwell was divorced from his first wife by 2012 and married his second wife, Brittany Watts, in 2016.

HOW DID THE FBI FIND HER OUT?

Fang seems to have been monitored since she was a student but exactly when the FBI surveillance operation started is unknown. It is known that she had contact with a suspected Chinese intelligence officer stationed at its San Francisco consulate. Diplomatic communications are routinely monitored.

WHO ELSE DID SHE ENSNARE?

Fang had sex with two unnamed mayors, one of an ‘obscure’ Ohio city (anywhere with a population of more than 5,000 in Ohio is a city) and one an ‘older’ mayor from the midwest. They had sex in a car but he claimed he was teaching her English. Both encounters were overheard by the FBI. She is also Facebook friends with current and former mayors and attended get-togethers for urban leaders.

WHY WASN’T SHE ARRESTED?

It is unclear but counter-intelligence operations by the FBI are often intended to simply disrupt enemy spying and get them out of the country. Fang seems to have known she was compromised when she vanished in 2015.

DID SWALWELL DO ANYTHING WRONG?

So far the leaked FBI investigation and Swalwell’s own account is clear that he acted properly, cutting ties with her when the FBI told her she was a danger to national security. However her lingering presence in his family’s Facebook friendship circuit must raise questions about the extent to which he cut ties.

WHY DIDN’T WE KNOW ABOUT THIS BEFORE?

The FBI keeps its secrets close to its vest and disrupting a spy who was targeting at least two members of Congress would have been a major coup for its counter-intelligence agents. Letting China know just how much the agency had come to understand of Fang’s activities in her four years in the U.S. helps them hone their espionage in future to make it more difficult to detect.