Exclusive: White House advances drone and missile sales to Taiwan – sources

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The White House is moving forward with more sales of sophisticated military equipment to Taiwan, telling Congress on Tuesday that it will seek to sell Taipei MQ-9 drones and a coastal defensive missile system, sources familiar with the situation said.

The possible sales follow three other notifications first reported by Reuters on Monday that drew China’s ire as the United States prepares for its Nov. 3 election.

One of the eight sources said that in total the sales were valued at around $5 billion. Very often figures for U.S. foreign military sales include costs for training, spares and fees making the values difficult to pinpoint.

Reuters broke the news in September that as many as seven major weapons systems were making their way through the U.S. export process as the Trump administration ramps up pressure on China.

The pre-notification to Congress for the General Atomics-made MQ-9 drones is the first after President Donald Trump’s administration moved ahead with its plan to sell more drones to more countries by reinterpreting an international arms control agreement called the Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR).

Tuesday’s other congressional pre-notification was for land-based Harpoon anti-ship missiles, made by Boeing Co BA.N, to serve as coastal defense cruise missiles. One of the sources said the approximately 100 cruise missiles that were notified to Capitol Hill would have a cost of about $2 billion.

Representatives for the U.S. State Department did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

A Taiwan government source acknowledged that “Taiwan has five weapon systems that are moving through the process.”

The U.S. Senate Foreign Relations and House of Representatives Foreign Affairs committees have the right to review, and block, weapons sales under an informal review process before the State Department sends its formal notification to the legislative branch.

A general view of the White House in Washington, U.S., October 7, 2020. REUTERS/Leah Millis TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY

Leaders of the committees were notified that the planned weapons sales had been approved by the U.S. State Department which oversees foreign military sales, said the sources, who are familiar with the situation but declined to be identified.

Reuters reported on Monday that informal notifications had already been sent to Congress for a truck-based rocket launcher made by Lockheed Martin Corp LMT.N called a High Mobility Artillery Rocket System (HIMARS), long-range air-to-ground missiles made by Boeing called SLAM-ER, and external sensor pods for F-16 jets that allow the real-time transmission of imagery and data from the aircraft back to ground stations.

When asked about Tuesday’s tranche of congressional notifications the Chinese Embassy in Washington referred to an overnight statement from Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian.

Zhao said U.S. arms sales to Taiwan severely damaged China’s sovereignty and security interests. He urged Washington to clearly recognize the harm they caused and immediately cancel them, adding: “China will make a legitimate and necessary response according to how the situation develops.”

China considers Taiwan a wayward province that it has vowed

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Exclusive: White House advances drone and missile sales to Taiwan

By Mike Stone, Patricia Zengerle and David Brunnstrom

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The White House is moving forward with more sales of sophisticated military equipment to Taiwan, telling Congress on Tuesday that it will seek to sell Taipei MQ-9 drones and a coastal defensive missile system, sources familiar with the situation said.

The possible sales follow three other notifications first reported by Reuters on Monday that drew China’s ire as the United States prepares for its Nov. 3 election.

One of the eight sources said that in total the sales were valued at around $5 billion. Very often figures for U.S. foreign military sales include costs for training, spares and fees making the values difficult to pinpoint.

Reuters broke the news in September that as many as seven major weapons systems were making their way through the U.S. export process as the Trump administration ramps up pressure on China.

The pre-notification to Congress for the General Atomics-made MQ-9 drones is the first after President Donald Trump’s administration moved ahead with its plan to sell more drones to more countries by reinterpreting an international arms control agreement called the Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR).

Tuesday’s other congressional pre-notification was for land-based Harpoon anti-ship missiles, made by Boeing Co, to serve as coastal defense cruise missiles. One of the sources said the approximately 100 cruise missiles that were notified to Capitol Hill would have a cost of about $2 billion.

Representatives for the U.S. State Department did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

A Taiwan government source acknowledged that “Taiwan has five weapon systems that are moving through the process.”

The U.S. Senate Foreign Relations and House of Representatives Foreign Affairs committees have the right to review, and block, weapons sales under an informal review process before the State Department sends its formal notification to the legislative branch.

Leaders of the committees were notified that the planned weapons sales had been approved by the U.S. State Department which oversees foreign military sales, said the sources, who are familiar with the situation but declined to be identified.

Reuters reported on Monday that informal notifications had already been sent to Congress for a truck-based rocket launcher made by Lockheed Martin Corp called a High Mobility Artillery Rocket System (HIMARS), long-range air-to-ground missiles made by Boeing called SLAM-ER, and external sensor pods for F-16 jets that allow the real-time transmission of imagery and data from the aircraft back to ground stations.

When asked about Tuesday’s tranche of congressional notifications the Chinese Embassy in Washington referred to an overnight statement from Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian.

Zhao said U.S. arms sales to Taiwan severely damaged China’s sovereignty and security interests. He urged Washington to clearly recognize the harm they caused and immediately cancel them, adding: “China will make a legitimate and necessary response according to how the situation develops.”

China considers Taiwan a wayward province that it has vowed to reunite with the mainland, by force if necessary, but Washington considers it

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Exclusive: White House Moves Forward on Two More Arms Sales to Taiwan – Sources | World News

By Mike Stone, Patricia Zengerle and David Brunnstrom

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The White House is moving forward with more sales of sophisticated military equipment to Taiwan, telling Congress on Tuesday that it will seek to sell MQ-9 drones and a coastal defensive missile system, five sources familiar with the situation said.

The possible sales, which are likely to anger China in the run-up to the Nov. 3 U.S. election, follows three notifications first reported by Reuters on Monday.

China considers Taiwan a wayward province that it has vowed to reunite with the mainland, by force if necessary.

Reuters broke the news in September that as many as seven major weapons systems were making their way through the U.S. export process as the Trump administration ramps up pressure on China.

The pre-notification to Congress for the MQ-9 drone case is the first after President Donald Trump’s administration moved ahead with its plan to sell more drones to more countries by reinterpreting an international arms control agreement called the Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR).

The U.S. Senate Foreign Relations and House of Representatives Foreign Affairs committees have the right to review, and block, weapons sales under an informal review process before the State Department sends its formal notification to the legislative branch.

(Reporting by Mike Stone, Patricia Zengerle and David Brunnstrom in Washington; Additional reporting by Matt Spetalnick in Washington; Editing by Matthew Lewis)

Copyright 2020 Thomson Reuters.

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Exclusive: White House moves forward on three arms sales to Taiwan

By David Brunnstrom, Patricia Zengerle and Mike Stone

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The White House is moving forward with three sales of advanced weaponry to Taiwan, sending in recent days a notification of the deals to Congress for approval, three sources familiar with the situation said on Monday.

The move in the run-up to the Nov. 3 U.S. election is likely to anger China, which considers Taiwan a renegade province which it has vowed to reunite with the mainland, by force if necessary.

In September, Reuters reported that as many as seven major weapons systems were making their way through the U.S. export process as the Trump administration ramps up pressure on China.

Leaders of the Senate Foreign Relations and House of Representatives Foreign Affairs committees were notified that three of the planned weapons sales had been approved by the U.S. State Department which oversees Foreign Military Sales, the sources said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

The informal notifications were for a truck-based rocket launcher made by Lockheed Martin Corp called a High Mobility Artillery Rocket System (HIMARS), long-range air-to-ground missiles made by Boeing Co called SLAM-ER, and external sensor pods for F-16 jets that allow the real-time transmission of imagery and data from the aircraft back to ground stations.

Notifications for the sale of other weapons systems, including large, sophisticated aerial drones, land-based Harpoon anti-ship missiles and underwater mines, to deter amphibious landings, have yet to reach Capitol Hill, but these were expected soon, the sources said.

A State Department spokesman said: “As a matter of policy, the United States does not confirm or comment on proposed defense sales or transfers until they are formally notified to Congress.”

The U.S. Senate Foreign Relations and House of Representatives Foreign Affairs committees have had the right to review, and block, weapons sales under an informal review process before the State Department sends its formal notification to the legislative branch.

Taiwan’s representative office in Washington said it had no comment, and China’s embassy did not immediately respond.

News that new arms sales were moving forward comes after senior U.S. officials last week repeated calls for Taiwan to spend more on its own defense and to carry out military reforms to make clear to China the risks of attempting to invade.

It comes at a time when China has significantly stepped up military activity near Taiwan and as U.S.-China relations have plunged to the lowest point in decades as the U.S. election nears. President Donald Trump and his Democratic challenger, Joe Biden, have both sought to appear tough in their approach to Beijing.

Speaking on Wednesday, the U.S. national security adviser, Robert O’Brien, warned against any attempt to retake Taiwan by force, saying amphibious landings were notoriously difficult and there was a lot of ambiguity about how the United States would respond.

The United States is required by law to provide Taiwan with the means to defend itself, but it has not made clear whether it would intervene militarily in the event of a

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Exclusive: White House asks Congress to approve three arms sales to Taiwan – sources

A general view of the White House in Washington, U.S., October 7, 2020. REUTERS/Leah Millis TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The White House is moving forward with three sales of advanced weaponry to Taiwan, sending in recent days a notification of the deals to Congress for approval, two sources familiar with the situation said on Monday.

In September, Reuters reported that as many as seven major weapons systems were making their way through the export process as the Trump administration ramps up pressure on China.

Leaders of the Senate Foreign Relations and House of Representatives Foreign Affairs committees were notified that three of the planned weapons sales had been approved by the U.S. State Department which oversees Foreign Military Sales, the sources said.

A State Department spokesman said: “As a matter of policy, the United States does not confirm or comment on proposed defense sales or transfers until they are formally notified to Congress.”

There was no immediate comment from Taiwan’s representative office in Washington.

The sales notified to Congress were for a truck-based rocket launcher made by Lockheed Martin called a High Mobility Artillery Rocket System (HIMARS), long range air-to-ground missiles made by Boeing Co called SLAM-ER, and external sensor pods for F-16 jets that allow the real-time transmission of imagery and data from the aircraft back to ground stations.

Reporting by David Brunnstrom, Patricia Zengerle and Mike Stone in Washington; Editing by Franklin Paul and Matthew Lewis

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How 2020’s ‘The Secret Garden’ differs from previous adaptations (exclusive)

Watch: The Secret Garden trailer below

First published in 1911, Frances Hodgson Burnett’s novel The Secret Garden is widely recognised as a classic of English children’s literature, and has been adapted countless times, on stage, on television, and on film.

The first filmed version – sadly now lost – was made just eight years after publication in 1919, while its most recent big screen adaptation, produced by Francis Ford Coppola, came in 1993. Now, in 2020 a new version of the classic childhood tale – which sees a young girl discovering a hidden oasis on her uncle’s land – is being released into cinemas and on Sky Cinema on 23 October.

Produced by Heyday Films and Studiocanal – the team who brought us Paddington and Paddington 2 – this new version stars newcomer Dixie Egerickx in the lead as Mary Lennox, with Colin Firth as her uncle Archibald Craven and Julia Walters as the housekeeper Mrs. Medlock, and promises to do something different with the source material.

Read more: The best new releases on Now TV and Sky Cinema in October

Speaking exclusively to Yahoo Movies UK, producer Rosie Alison (The Boy In The Striped Pyjamas/Testament of Youth) explained that, along with moving the story from the Edwardian period into a post-war setting, the new adaptation draws heavily on Burnett’s own memoirs to offer a new perspective on the tale.

Exclusive behind-the-scenes look at <em>The Secret Garden</em>, which comes to cinemas and Sky Cinema across the UK and Ireland on 23 October. (Sky Cinema)
Exclusive behind-the-scenes look at The Secret Garden, which comes to cinemas and Sky Cinema across the UK and Ireland on 23 October. (Sky Cinema)

They’ve “done more to emphasise the power of imagination which underpins the story,” Alison explains. “This is particularly true of our version of the garden,” which appears more fantastical than previous adaptations.

“For this we drew from the author’s fascinating memoir (‘The One I Knew Best of All’) in which she recalls a key moment in her childhood when she entered her very own ‘secret garden’ in an abandoned house near an industrial quarter of  Manchester. It’s a revelatory account.. [and] clearly a seedbed for her great novel.”

Read on to learn more about The Secret Garden, and to see some exclusive new behind-the-scenes photos from the making of the film.

Why did you decide to adapt Frances Hodgson Burnett’s The Secret Garden

(L to R) Rosie Alison, David Heyman and Alexandra Ferguson-Derbyshire attend a photocall for "Paddington 2", 2017. (David M. Benett/Dave Benett/WireImage)
(L to R) Rosie Alison, David Heyman and Alexandra Ferguson-Derbyshire attend a photocall for “Paddington 2”, 2017. (David M. Benett/Dave Benett/WireImage)

Rosie Alison: Like so many, I’ve loved this novel since childhood. There’s something so simple yet universal about the idea of a secret garden – and a lonely child in a wintry house finding that hidden lost place with the power to restore and heal her life through nature, and friendship. It’s one of the great redemptive fables. But although I’ve enjoyed all the various filmed versions, the last film was nearly 30 years ago, and it feels worthwhile to try and keep this story fresh for a new generation to discover. 

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We Got An Exclusive Tour of Kristin Cavallari’s Gorgeous Kitchen

Cookbook author, designer, and TV personality Kristin Cavallari welcomed us into her home for an exclusive tour of her stunning kitchen—and we’re obsessed.

Prominently displayed on her counter is Cavallari’s new collection of natural, wholesome, healthy comfort food recipes, True Comfort.

The brand new cookbook couldn’t have come at a better time. As the weather cools off and the leaves begin to fall, we’re inspired to try all of the cozy creations (Oat Crust Chicken Pot Pie, anyone?).

Buy it! $17, amazon.com

“There’s been this stigma that comfort food is really fattening and heavy, like a cheat meal,” she says. “But I actually disagree. I think if you mix in really healthy ingredient swaps you can eat that stuff every single day.”

Here are some other highlights:

  • A classic copper tea kettle (Cavallari says she gravitates toward copper kitchen accessories) and a simple Le Creuset dutch oven ($290, williams-sonoma.com) sit atop her spacious stovetop. We’re pretty sure the kettle comes from Cavallari’s very own home, jewelry, and apparel brand, Uncommon James, but you can find some slightly cheaper options online ($50, amazon.com).
  • Cavallari subscribes to Dry Farm Wines, which sells natural, organic, or Biodynamic wines. We hadn’t heard of this company until recently, but we’re super intrigued (and we think you will be too). Read more about Dry Farm Wines here.
  • Cavallari’s three kids have no problem helping her in the kitchen, thanks in part to this handy dandy kitchen helper stool ($169, amazon.com). The adjustable Guidecraft product, which helps small children reach the countertop, creates a safe and fun environment for tiny chefs.

Thanks so much for the tour and the kitchen inspiration, Kristin! Keep up with Kristin on Instagram and explore Uncommon James here. Plus, don’t forget to check out her new cookbook!

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In 35th Farm Aid Preview, Brandi Carlile Tours Her Garden & Chris Vos Gets Emotional About His Farming Family: Exclusive

The festival’s online format will highlight Farm Aid’s real superstars—the family farmers who grow the nation’s food.

When Willie Nelson’s Farm Aid stages its 35th anniversary festival on Sept. 26, the all-star event will be unlike any virtual concert yet seen during the pandemic.

Farm Aid 2020 On The Road will stream can’t-miss performances from its most expansive and diverse artist lineup in years.

The organization’s guiding foursome of Nelson, Neil Young, John Mellencamp and Dave Matthews will be joined by Norah Jones, Black Pumas, Bonnie Raitt and Boz Scaggs, Brandi Carlile, Chris Stapleton, Edie Brickell with Charlie Sexton, Jack Johnson, Jamey Johnson, Jon Batiste, Kelsey Waldon, Lukas Nelson & Promise of the Real, Margo Price, Nathaniel Rateliff, Particle Kid, The Record Company, Valerie June and The War And Treaty.

But the festival’s online format also will highlight Farm Aid’s real superstars—the family farmers who grow the nation’s food, the men and women whom Nelson sought to help when he launched Farm Aid with its first concert in Champaign, Ill., on Sept. 22, 1985. Since then, Farm Aid—the longest-running concert for a cause— has raised nearly $60 million to support family farmers and a sustainable agriculture system.

And for Farm Aid’s performers, this is personal. In videos provided exclusively to Billboard in advance of the festival, Brandi Carlile offers a tour of her garden as she harvests late-season vegetables—and Chris Vos, lead singer of The Record Company, offers an emotional tribute to his dairy-farming father and his grandfather, who worked the land before him.

Against the backdrop of the pandemic, which has disproportionately affected communities of color, and amid another season of severe weather, driven by climate change, Farm Aid warns that thousands of family farmers may be driven out of business. The sustainable agricultural methods of family farmers, meanwhile, are viewed as essential to addressing climate change.

“This pandemic and so many other challenges have revealed how essential family farmers and ranchers are to the future of our planet,” says Nelson. “Farm Aid 2020 is going to give the whole country a chance to learn about the important work of farmers and how they’re contributing to our well-being, beyond bringing us good food.”

Farm Aid’s videos of family farmers help illustrate the organization’s intersecting causes of sustainable food, economic recovery from the pandemic, and the call for racial justice.

“This year has been challenging for us all,” says Black farmer Angie Provost, speaking beside her husband June, in front of a tractor at the Provost Farm, which raises sugarcane in Louisiana. In its videos, Farm Aid challenges the image most may still have of the independent American farmer. In the three-plus-decades since Farm Aid helped launch the Good Food movement, a new generation—young, diverse, committed to sustainability—has turned to farming.

The farmers get an emotional boost from Farm Aid and the personal perspective of artists like Brandi Carlile. “This is my garden,” says Carlile in a Farm Aid video, climbing down from an off-road vehicle beside the plot she

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Exclusive! MG Gloster SUV interior, cabin images out: High-end premium features at an unbelievable price

MG Gloster will get an interesting set of features, some of which you can find only in some high-end luxury cars. Express Drives has managed to get some interior shots of the upcoming SUV and here is what all it will pack in!

MG Gloster interior, cabin images (Picture credits – Pradeep Shah)

MG Gloster SUV is set to be launched in India in the coming weeks and will arrive as the carmaker’s fourth offering for the Indian market. The exterior of the Toyota Fortuner, Ford Endeavour rival is no more a mystery as it has been revealed in the company’s latest teaser videos. That said, the Gloster will in reality be positioned at a premium over the mentioned rivals. Moreover, the company confirmed in its latest teaser that the SUV will come with some interesting high-end premium car-like features like auto park assist. Now, Express Drives has managed to get a set of interior images of the MG Gloster SUV apart from the list of its key features.

MG Gloster panoramic sunroof (PIcture credits – Pradeep Shah)
MG Gloster climate control (Picture credits – Pradeep Shah)

Digging into the details in terms of what all the MG Gloster will have on offer, the SUV will come with a three-zone climate control system. Moreover, the vehicle will get 64-colour ambient lighting and hence, will be the first vehicle in its segment to offer this feature. That’s more than one colour for every mood (even for the super moody), isn’t it? Moreover, a panoramic sunroof will also be on offer with an anti-pinch mechanism for safety.

MG Gloster instrument cluster showing fuel range (Picture credits – Pradeep Shah)
MG Gloster instrument cluster showing battery voltage (PIcture credits – Pradeep Shah)

The driver can access a lot of information through an 8-inch coloured instrument cluster that also shows battery charge & fuel range indicator and you can see the layout of the same along with the dashboard in the image above. It seems like MG Motor India is aiming to offer the best creature comforts for the MG Gloster buyers as the vehicle will also come with ventilated front seats, however, these get a heating functionality only. A boon during chilly winter nights!

MG Gloster middle row captain seats (Picture credits – Pradeep Shah)

Talking of the seating layout, the seven-seater SUV will get captain seats in the middle row and the seats will come with diamond-style stitching for a premium and better feel. Now, in terms of safety, the MG Gloster will get some features that you will find only in some high-end cars like Volvos and the BMWs. In order to be precise, the Gloster will come with lane departure and front collision warning along with autonomous emergency braking and also, an adaptive cruise control.

MG Gloster gear shifter (Picture credits – Pradeep Shah)
MG Gloster dashboard layout (Picture credits – Pradeep Shah)

Based on the Maxus D90 sold in China, the MG Gloster is on sale abroad with a

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Exclusive: White House asks U.S. agencies to detail all China-related funding

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The White House has asked U.S. government agencies for extensive details of any funding that seeks to counter China’s global influence and business practices, or supports Beijing, amid growing tensions between Washington and Beijing.

FILE PHOTO: Chinese and U.S. flags flutter near The Bund, before U.S. trade delegation meet their Chinese counterparts for talks in Shanghai, China July 30, 2019. REUTERS/Aly Song/File Photo

According to an Aug. 27 White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB) document seen by Reuters, the OMB directed U.S. agencies to submit “cross-cutting data on federal funding that aids or supports China, or that directly or indirectly counters China’s unfair competition and malign activities and influence globally.”

China denies it engages in unfair competitive practices.

The document, titled “Strategic Competition with China Crosscut,” does not say how the information will be used other than that it will “inform policymakers” of the myriad ways U.S. government spending involves China.

The United States and China have grown antagonistic toward each other with disagreements that stretch from a two-year-old trade war, to the Trump administration blaming Beijing for a lack of transparency about the spread of COVID-19.

The sweeping budget data request will be used to help policymakers and notes all funding should “reflect strategic priorities” when responding to China.

Some U.S. programs and spending under review dates back a decade or more. The document directs federal agencies to respond by Sept. 21.

A spokesman for OMB confirmed the agency effort, telling Reuters that “to ensure that the United States remains strong and in a position of strength against rival nations like China, OMB has asked federal agencies for all funding meant to counter China, or which could aid China.”

The memo includes instructions on how to submit both classified and unclassified U.S. spending details and seeks details of all U.S. government funding directed for spending inside China.

The White House document asks for data for all U.S. government funding used to “counter malign Chinese influence or behavior incongruent with American interests.”

It cites as examples “funding for programming to counter the One Belt One Road (OBOR) or Belt and Road Initiative (BRI); funding for military operations, equipment and infrastructure, the primary purpose of which is to deter aggressive Chinese behavior.”

It also seeks details of “secondary” U.S. efforts on China like “marginal contributions which were necessary to maintain a U.S. lead over China in terms of voting power within key international organizations” and funding for other U.S. efforts.

The document also seeks data on U.S. government funding for programs whose primary purpose is to counter Chinese technological prowess in key sectors like 5G and wireless communications, semiconductors, artificial intelligence and machine learning, quantum computing, cyber and system security, advanced manufacturing and robotics, autonomous and electric vehicles, biotechnology, advanced energy, and space technologies.

The White House sought details of spending on technical assistance from U.S. government experts, bilateral funding for the U.S.-China Clean Energy Research center and any other U.S. bilateral economic assistance programs.

It

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