A growing chorus of interest groups is calling for a pause in offshore wind activities to allow further assessment of the sector’s impacts on the marine ecosystem.
Congressman Jeff Van Drew of New Jersey, a Republican, introduced a congressional resolution on March 21 to halt work on east-coast offshore wind projects until investigations into its possible impact on marine mammals can be done.
Fishing groups and local residents have filed five lawsuits against proposed or under-construction wind projects along the Atlantic seaboard.
A leading body for the U.S. Pacific fishing industry is urging the federal government to call off its proposed auction for offshore wind off the Oregon coast.
And the United States’ largest lobbying group for Native Americans recently called for a halt to all offshore wind scoping and permitting.
Wind energy is a key component of the Biden Administration’s climate agenda. Its goal is to generate 30 gigawatts of energy from fixed-bottom offshore wind farms by 2030, which it says could power 10 million homes, as well as 15 gigawatts from floating offshore wind infrastructure by 2035, potentially providing power to 5 million homes.
An uptick in marine mammal deaths along the north Atlantic has been cited as reason for concern.
Since December, 29 whales have died on the east coast, and 14 dead dolphins have washed ashore in New Jersey in the past month, including eight on March 21.
Van Drew believes the survey and construction work associated with wind farms, which can reportedly damage dolphin and whale hearing, may be to blame.
NOAA has said its marine mammal stranding network has not linked any of the whale deaths to offshore wind technology.
Van Drew said that the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) have approved “these massive construction projects right in the middle of whale feeding and breeding grounds, as well as migration routes.”
BOEM has already leased 2.3 million acres and plans to lease another 1.7 million to install an estimated 3,500 turbines on the Atlantic coast.
“We are not even in the construction stage of these industrial wind turbine grids, yet we are already witnessing a highly unusual mortality rate of these intelligent marine animals,” he told The Epoch Times.
“We need a moratorium on all offshore wind projects before this gets worse, and I have introduced a resolution calling on Congress to do just that,” he added.
House Resolution 239 states that the Atlantic offshore wind leases represent an industrialization of the oceans that has not been thoroughly evaluated and asks Congress to declare an “immediate moratorium on development” until it can “conduct investigations to determine [its] true impacts.”
“Lease areas sit along known migration routes and foraging areas of North Atlantic right whales, humpback whales, and economically important commercial and recreational fish species,” it added of concerns about the cables that will require dredging along hundreds of miles of ocean floor.
Congressman Andy Harris, a Republican from Maryland, supports Van Drew’s resolution.
“Since BOEM began authorizing testing for offshore wind project developments, we have witnessed an uptick in whale deaths,” including one recent whale death on Assateague Island in Maryland, Harris told The Epoch Times in an email.
“We need to take the time to gather proper scientific data, act in full transparency, and not rely upon platitudes for these projects, their construction, and the impact they may have upon our environment.”
Agency officials have since said an initial necropsy indicates the whale death on Assateague Island is consistent with a vessel strike, after observing blunt force trauma on the 33.8-foot female.
According to NOAA’s Marine Mammal Health and Stranding Response Program coordinator Sarah Wilkin, there has been an “unusual ongoing mortality event since 2016 that is specific to the humpback whales,” and that a similiar increase in deaths have been observed for the endangered North Atlantic right whales. Researchers are unsure of the cause of the spike in mortalities.
While no deaths have been linked to the offshore wind farms, according to NOAA, a better understanding of the potential impacts from the wind projects planned off southern New England will be crucial to protecting the endangered right whale that is increasingly using the same waters as habitat.
“Increased noise from wind turbine construction and operations and vessels could … directly impact important whale behaviors and interfere with the detection of critical acoustic cues. These types of impacts may also be associated with physiological stress and could affect the whales’ use of the region,” an agency news release said.
“The presence of wind turbine foundations may impact oceanographic and atmospheric conditions including potential changes in ocean stratification. This might alter the formation of plankton aggregations and thus foraging opportunities for right whales.”
The Pacific Fishery Management Council is urging BOEM to rescind the current Oregon lease areas designated for floating offshore wind energy development in the Pacific.
The Council passed a resolution at its March 10 meeting recommending that BOEM restart the process for identifying suitable areas for installing offshore wind turbines to account for the needs of the fishing industry.
BOEM announced in April 2022 that it would lease two areas for offshore wind development off the Oregon coast. In the coming year it plans to auction 1.15 million acres starting 12 miles offshore along the south-central and southern Oregon coast.
Acknowledging the risk to marine life—including that of whales becoming tangled in the moorings and cables associated with floating wind platforms— federal agencies have commissioned more than a dozen studies of the environmental, economic, and social impact of large-scale development along the Pacific Coast.
But the Pacific coast leasing areas were selected before the studies were complete.
The council recommended BOEM start the siting process over using a spatial mapping tool focused on identifying areas suitable for wind energy development that will not negatively impact west coast fisheries.
Meanwhile, Native American tribes claim they have been left out of the process.
The nation’s oldest association of American Indian and Native Alaskan tribes has called for a moratorium on offshore wind development along U.S. coasts, insisting the Biden administration do a better job protecting tribal interests.
The National Council of American Indians (NCAI) issued a resolution on Feb. 24, asserting “shared tribal jurisdictional authority over and tribal management of offshore renewable energy activities, aimed at empowering Native communities through socio-economic benefits such as job opportunities, revenue sharing, and support for tribal energy development projects.”
It urged the Department of the Interior and BOEM to “halt all scoping and permitting for offshore wind projects until completion of a comprehensive and transparent procedure adequately protecting tribal environmental and sovereign interests is developed and implemented.”
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis won the state’s 2018 Republican gubernatorial primary and then edged a heavily favored Democrat candidate in the general election because of Donald Trump’s endorsement, the former president proclaimed at his March 25 campaign rally in Waco, Texas.
During a week where he has faced a possible indictment from Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg over a hush-money payment to Stormy Daniels, Trump has increased his focus on DeSantis, who has yet to enter the 2024 presidential race but is widely considered as Trump’s most serious potential contender.
Reinforcing previous comments, Trump at the rally said that before DeSantis was governor, “Florida was tremendously successful under Rick Scott” and that Charlie Crist’s tenure as governor was a success.
“Florida has been successful for decades,” Trump said.
Trump praised the loyalty of legislators in the audience like Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.) and Texas Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick. Then he turned his attention back to DeSantis.
In 2018, DeSantis was trailing former congressman Adam Putnam in the Republican primary, approached Trump with “tears in his eyes,” and asked for an endorsement, Trump said.
“I said ‘I can’t give you an endorsement. There’s no way you can win. You’re dead,” Trump added.
But DeSantis pleaded for Trump’s backing, Trump said.
“I said alright, let’s give it a shot,” Trump added. “And I endorsed him, and he became like a rocket ship. Within one day, the race was over. He got the nomination.”
In the general election, DeSantis was considered an underdog against rising Democrat figure Andrew Gillum. DeSantis won by a narrow margin, a victory Trump has repeatedly said happened because of his endorsement.
Trump once again took issue at DeSantis saying “no comment” when asked by reporters if he will run for president in 2024.
“I said, ‘That’s not supposed to happen,’” Trump explained.
Trump first talked about DeSantis at the rally after saying that “I stood up to China like no other president has ever stood up before. You didn’t even know China was a problem until I came along.”
Farmers love Trump, the former president said, because he implemented China tariffs.
“They keep saying, Oh, I think the ‘DeSanctus’ could do OK with farmers. I don’t think so. Based based on polls, he’s not doing OK with anything,” Trump remarked.
A Monmouth University poll taken from March 16 to 20 showed Trump with a 41 percent to 27 percent lead.
In late January, DeSantis held a 53 percent to 40 percent advantage over Trump in a two-person primary, and the two candidates were deadlocked at 33 percent with other names included in the Monmouth survey.
“It’s never good to try and destroy Social Security. It’s never good to raise the minimum age to a very high level, which was not good. And to go against Medicare, and try and obliterate it. These are a few of the good facts,” Trump said.
Earlier this week on Truth Social, Trump wrote a post about DeSantis: “He is, for a Republican, an average Governor, he got 1.2 million less Votes in Florida than me, he fought for massive cuts in Social Security and Medicare, and wanted Social Security minimum age to be raised to 70-years-old, or more.”
On March 24, Trump said that an alliance with DeSantis is “very unlikely” and that he has never considered DeSantis as a 2024 running mate.
At a news conference on March 20, DeSantis commented about the New York case involving Trump.
“I have no interest in getting involved in some manufactured circus by some Soros-DA,” DeSantis said, referring to Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg. “He’s trying to do a political spectacle. He’s trying to virtue signal for his base. I’ve got real issues I got to deal with here in the state of Florida.”
“I don’t know what’s going to happen but I do know this: the Manhattan district attorney is a Soros-funded prosecutor,” DeSantis added.
After accusing Bragg of weaponizing his office by pursuing Trump, DeSantis brought up the allegations against the former president and said that they don’t apply to him.
“I don’t know what goes into paying hush money to a porn star to secure silence over some type of alleged affair, I just, I can’t speak to that,” DeSantis said.
During an interview with Newsmax on March 22, DeSantis was asked if he would join Trump’s 2024 ticket.
“I think I am probably more of an executive guy. I think that you want to be able to do things,” DeSantis said. “That’s part of the reason I got into this job, is because we have action. We’re able to make things happen, and I think that’s probably what I’m best suited for.”
“He’s trying to do a political spectacle,” DeSantis added. “I’ve got real issues I’ve got to deal with here in the state of Florida.”
DeSantis added that, if he entered the 2024 presidential race, he thinks he could defeat Biden.
When asked if he believes he could beat Biden if he were to enter the 2024 presidential race, the Florida governor replied, “I think so,” before touting his decisive success in the midterm elections.
Earlier at the Waco rally, Trump attorney Christina Bobb said that DeSantis “will come out a bloodied pulp” if he enters the Republican primary.
“I would not want to enter the octagon with Donald Trump. Nobody comes out of that and looks pretty,” Bobb said.
“In order for Ron DeSantis to mildly stand a chance with Donald Trump, he has to attack Donald Trump, and people who attack Donald Trump don’t fare well,” she added.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) has been released home after completing inpatient physical therapy at a rehabilitation facility, following a concussion he suffered earlier this month.
The 81-year-old senator had a fall at a private dinner for the Senate Leadership Fund, a Republican super PAC, on March 8 at the Waldorf Astoria in Washington. After the fall, McConnell was admitted to hospital where he was treated for a concussion and a minor rib fracture.
He was discharged from the hospital on March 13 and subsequently attended a separate facility for inpatient physical therapy at the advice of his physician.
“I want to sincerely thank everyone for all the kind wishes,” McConnell said in a statement on Saturday. “I’m happy to say I finished inpatient physical therapy earlier today and I’m glad to be home.
It marked the first statement McConnell issued himself since he fell.
“I’m going to follow the advice of my physical therapists and spend the next few days working for Kentuckians and the Republican Conference from home,” he added. “I’m in frequent touch with my Senate colleagues and my staff. I look forward to returning in person to the Senate soon.”
McConnell, who earlier this year became the Senate’s longest-serving GOP leader, didn’t specify when exactly he would return to the chamber.
He spoke with members of his leadership team earlier this week. Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.) and Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas) said they spoke to McConnell in a brief phone call.
“We just kind of checked in and touched gloves. He wanted to convey his appreciation for the way we’ve been working with his staff,” Thune told reporters at the time.
“He’s chomping at the bit. Can’t wait to get back. I said, ‘Well, don’t be in a big hurry, ’cause we’re not doing anything here,’” Cornyn told reporters of the call.
Sens. Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.) and Thom Tillis (R-N.C.) said at the time they had been texting McConnell and expressed that he was well.
Former President Donald Trump on March 25 predicted that Russian President Vladimir Putin would end up conquering all of Ukraine.
Trump made the comments during the first rally of his 2024 presidential campaign in Waco, Texas.
When the Russo-Ukrainian conflict escalated in February 2022, Trump said, Putin “wanted to get a piece” of Ukraine. “Now, it looks like he’ll end up getting the whole thing.”
Trump said that Putin’s invasion of Ukraine would not have happened if he had been president.
Trump also promised that if he were president, he would end the Russo-Ukrainian conflict “within 24 hours.”
To do this, Trump said he would look into funding and other financial ties between the United States, Russia, and Ukraine to force a compromise.
“As I stand here tonight, I am the only candidate who can say this: I will prevent World War III,” Trump said to a round of applause from his supporters.
Since 2016, Trump has made opposition to foreign entanglements a pillar of his political movement. Trump has blasted the Iraq War and similar conflicts as a “disaster.”
During the 2016 campaign, Trump also contrasted himself with then-candidate Hillary Clinton, telling voters that Clinton would send the United States. to war with Russia if elected.
The takeover of Ukraine, Trump suggested, only happened because he was not in the Oval Office.
“As soon as I was out—or however you wanna describe that catastrophe—they [Russia] started putting soldiers on the border [with Ukraine].”
The Russo-Ukrainian War began in 2014 with Russia’s takeover of the Crimean Peninsula. Following that takeover, tensions between the two nations remained high, but Russia committed no further acts of aggression toward its western neighbor.
President Donald Trump opened the first rally of his 2024 campaign with a recording of imprisoned Jan. 6 defendants singing the national anthem.
The song played after Trump walked on stage in Waco, Texas, The announcer asked the people in the crowd to stand and place their hands over their hearts.
The tune, which is a collage of the national anthem and a recording of Trump reading the Pledge of Allegiance, hit the number-one spot on several major music platforms. Trump helped to produce the song, dubbed “Justice for All.”
Trump noted the popularity of the song, saying that “those people [Jan. 6 defendants] mean a lot for our people.
“The abuses of power we are seeing in our government will go down as some of the most depraved and corrupt in history,” Trump said near the beginning of the rally, a likely reference both to the plight of Jan. 6 defendants and ongoing GOP investigations into the “weaponization” of the federal government.
“The Biden regime’s weaponization of federal law enforcement is something out of Stalinist Russia,” Trump added.
“A third-world banana republic—that’s what we’ve become.”
The move is a bold one for Trump, who has over the past two years faced a litany of allegations from the now-defunct January 6 Committee.
That committee and other Trump opponents accused Trump and his allies of being the mastermind of a plot to overthrow the government. Jan. 6 was painted as a “violent insurrection.”
These claims have come under increasing scrutiny. The day before the rally, a prosecutor in a Jan. 6 trial admitted that DC police officers acted as provocateurs on Jan. 6.
Those arrested in connection to the events of Jan. 6 have faced conditions in their detainment that Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.) has described as “nothing short of human rights abuses.” Greene more than once toured the facility where many such defendants are held.
After a December 2021 visit to the D.C. Metropolitan Jail, where many arrested in connection to Jan. 6 are housed, Greene said, “[Jan. 6 defendants] have been beaten by the guards, they are called ‘white supremacists,’ they are denied religious services, haircuts, shaving, the ability to trim their fingernails.”
Greene continued, “They’re denied time with their attorney, they are denied the ability to even see their families and have their families visit there, they’re denied bail and are being held there without bail.”
Aside from all these alleged violations of their liberty, Greene reported, the defendants “have been told that they have to denounce President Donald Trump” and “that their views are the views of cult members.”
The defendants have also been denied religious services and access to clergy.
Greene ruled that the Jan. 6 defendants have been treated “worse than we treat terrorists in Gitmo [Guantanamo Bay].”
Many in Congress have strayed away from the issue entirely.
Trump has said that he would pardon Jan. 6 protesters if he retakes the White House.
The proceeds from the sale of the song go toward the legal funds of some of the Jan. 6 prisoners, according to the closing screen of the official music video.
House Republicans sent another letter to Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg on Saturday, requesting the latter to provide more information about the potential indictment against former president Donald Trump.
“We reiterate the request in our March 20 letter and ask that you comply in full as soon as possible but no later than March 31, 2023,” the Republicans said in the letter (pdf).
The letter was signed by House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jim Jordan (R-Ohio), House Administration Committee Chair Bryan Steil (R-Wis.), and House Oversight Committee Chair James Comer (R-Ky.).
Trump issued a statement on March 18 saying he expected to be indicted by Manhattan District Attorney’s Office on March 21.
In the statement on Truth Social post, the former president called his supporters to protest and “take our nation back!”
The three House Republican chairpersons sent a letter on Monday to Bragg for information related to the Trump probe, including whether federal funds were used in the investigation. Leslie Dubeck, general counsel of the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office said on Thursday—in response to the House Republicans’ letter—that his office will provide a letter detailing its use of federal funds.
However, Dubeck said the inquiry for information about the Trump probe is “unprecedented,” “unconstitutional,” and a violation of New York’s sovereignty.
Bragg’s office requested a meeting with the House Republicans “to understand whether the Committee has any legitimate legislative purpose in the requested material that could be accommodated without impeding those sovereign interests.”
The House Republicans said in the Saturday letter that they are not trying to block any prosecution by the Manhattan District Attorney’s office.
“We are simply seeking information to carry out constitutional duties,” they wrote in the letter.
Meanwhile, the top Republicans insisted that “federal interest” is substantially involved in this probe.
“The potential criminal indictment of a former President of the United States by an elected local prosecutor of the opposing political party (and who will face the prospect of re-election) implicates substantial federal interests, particularly in a jurisdiction where trial-level judges also are popularly elected. If state or local prosecutors are able to engage in politically motivated prosecutions of President of the United States (former or current) for personal acts, this could have a profound impact on how Presidents choose to exercise their powers while in office. For example, a President could choose to avoid taking action he believes to be in the national interest because it would negatively impact New York City for fear that he would be subject to a retaliatory prosecution in New York City,” reads the letter.
The Epoch Times reached out to the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office for comments.
The Manhattan District Attorney’s Office is investigating Trump for his company’s classification of a $130,000 reimbursement to his former personal attorney Michael Cohen linked to a payment made to adult entertainment actress Stormy Daniels.
A grand jury hearing the case appeares to be not yet concluded.
In the Thursday letter, Bragg’s office said Trump “created a false expectation that he would be arrested the next day” and claimed the Republicans have no legislative reasons in the inquiry.
The Republicans, however, stated that there are several legislation-related aspects in the pursuit of information and testimony from Bragg’s office.
The House Judiciary Committee may draft legislation to bar current and former presidents from improper state and local prosecutions.
Congress may also consider legislative reforms on the authority of special counsels, as the current probe by Manhattan DA was part of special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation.
“We trust the information in this letter satisfies your request to ‘understand whether the Committee has any legitimate legislative purpose,’” the Republicans concluded.
The House Financial Services Committee Chairman Patrick McHenry (R-N.C.), warned against quick regulatory fixes for the banking crisis.
The congressman from North Carolina told the American Bankers Association Washington Summit on March 22, we “cannot legislate confidence” when it comes to the banking sector.
He stated that it was too early to see if any new legislation was necessary after the recent failure of Signature Bank and Silicon Valley Bank.
McHenry believes that Congress must first gather the facts and determine what caused both collapses to occur before pushing for new banking regulations.
“Too often, as legislators, we walk around and assume the answer is legislation,” said McHenry to the audience.
“I think it is too early to tell if new legislation is necessary. … Some policymakers on both sides of the aisle are already jumping to the conclusion with incomplete information.”
The committee chair said that raising the deposit insurance limit “could have serious consequences for the financial system” and listed moral hazards and further bank consolidations as potential trade-offs.
“We need to have a full understanding of what those trade-offs truly are,” he said.
McHenry also said that regulators needed to stop the spread of the crisis, but that capitalism will always entail risks.
“Without failure, you cannot have capitalism. So firms need to be able to fail,” he explained.
Silicon Valley Bank (SVB) was taken over by the U.S. government on March 10 after its collapse, followed by Signature Bank on March 12.
Federal regulators, including the Department of Justice and the Securities and Exchange Commission are probing SVB executives.
First Republic Bank received a multibillion-dollar rescue loan from major U.S. lenders last week, while Credit Suisse was bought out by UBS after its failure on March 19.
Global banking markets have been volatile since the beginning of March, as investors remain fearful of wider economic repercussions.
McHenry along with his ranking member counterpart, Maxine Waters (D-Calif.), recently announced that the Senate committee would shortly hold the first round of hearings on the recent bank failures, amid major economic stress.
In his remarks, the chairman criticized some of his lawmakers who he said were too quick to call for more regulation and there were key questions about the bank failures that needed to be answered first.
“Did regulators miss red flags that would have alerted them to problems at both institutions? Were the banks’ management teams deficient?” he asked.
“Is new regulation needed or did regulators fail to use the tools already available to them?
“It’s important to note that we can’t legislate competence,” he said. “We give power to regulators and supervisors, they need to be competent. Management of institutions need to be competent. Boards of directors need to be competent … We need to have competent people at the helm,” said McHenry.
A few prominent lawmakers on the committee said over the weekend, that they would consider passing a bill that would raise the federal insurance limit on bank deposits.
They believe that is needed to stem a financial crisis marked by a massive outflow of uninsured deposits away from small and regional banks.
Meanwhile, Federal regulators have also discussed increasing deposit insurance without obtaining approval from Congress, as they discussed various solutions to the banking crisis, sources told Reuters.
President Biden said last week, that the banking crisis was calming down and he promised American depositors that their money was safe.
Reuters contributed to this report.
China’s state-sanctioned practice of forced organ harvesting also came under scrutiny
Two prison camp survivors recounted how Uyghur women were subjected to sterilization, sexual abuse, electric shocks, and brainwashing in China’s “re-education” camps during a hearing held by House Select Committee on the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) on March 23.
“Genocide is occurring, this time at the hands of the Chinese Communist Party,” said Rep. Mike Gallagher (R-Wis.), the committee chairman, at the start of the hearing.
“The CCP’s genocide against Uyghurs and other Muslims groups is real,” Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi (D-Ill.), the committee’s ranking member, said at the hearing. “Not only is it going on to this day, it is expanding. It is not too late to confront these atrocities so that the famous saying ‘never again’ can actually become a reality.”
China has used “combating extremism” as a pretext for locking up over 1 million Uyghurs in its far-western region of Xinjiang, where detainees are subjected to forced labor, torture, political indoctrination, forced abortion, and other inhuman treatment in the Chinese internment camps.
In 2021, both the Trump and the Biden administrations formally declared China’s treatment of Uyghurs as “genocide” and “crimes against humanity.” Several countries have followed suit, including Belgium, Canada, the Czech Republic, Lithuania, the Netherlands, and the United Kingdom.
The hearing, Gallagher said, could, at the very minimum, raise awareness.
“The least we can do on this committee is to make sure that in 50 years—when the Xinjiang genocide is remembered as one of the abominations of the 21st century—no corporate executive, no policy maker, no investor, no university president can look their grandchildren in the eye and claim they didn’t know,” Gallagher said.
One of the two firsthand witnesses to testify at the hearing was Gulbahar Haitiwaji, a Uyghur now living in France.
“I was chained to the bed for 20 days,” Haitiwaji said through a translator during the hearing, recalling how she was punished in 2017.
Haitiwaji, living in France, was lured back to China in late 2016 to take care of her retirement pension.
She was held in two different education camps for over two years before she returned to France in August 2019, with the help of the French government and her daughter’s campaigning.
While incarcerated, Haitiwaji recalled she was forced to sit on a restraining device called the “tiger chair” while being interrogated. Also, she said she was subjected to “brainwashing education” for 11 hours a day and was tested on what she learned at the end of each week.
“We have to learn songs that praising [sic] Chinese Communist Party and the government,” Haitiwaji said. “Before eating, we have to praise … we are very grateful for China’s Communist Party, and we are grateful for [Chinese leader] Xi Jinping, and after [sic] finish eating, we have to praise them and thank them.”
Uyghurs in these camps are forbidden from speaking their native language, Haitiwaji added, and women like her are given sterilization shots.
Upon returning to France, Haitiwaji published her experiences in the Chinese camps in her book “How I Survived a Chinese ‘Re-Education’ Camp” in January 2021.
“After my book [was] published, China’s government accused me, [saying] that ‘I am a terrorist,’” Haitiwaji said. “Since then, I [have] lost contact with my family.”
Qelbinur Sidik, a member of China’s ethnic Uzbeck minority, was a Chinese-language teacher by trade. In 2017, she was assigned to a new position, and it was not until she arrived at her job that she realized that her students were Uyghurs at a concentration camp guarded by military police with rifles.
“For each meal, they eat one Chinese bun and water, and even going for [sic] toilet is monitored,” Sidik said through a translator. During her six-month teaching there, she said none of her students had a shower.
Her students would also be called from her classroom for interrogation, Sidik said, and she would hear “horrible screaming from torture” because the interrogation rooms were nearby.
“There are four types of torturing methods,” Sidik said. “One is electric baton, [and the others are the] electric helmet, electric glove, and a tiger chair.”
Sidik said her students who were being tortured would miss her classes for weeks or months.
Female prisoners were given unknown medicine every Monday, Sidik said, and their period would stop after taking the drug.
“Even some women who were breastfeeding the babies, the breast milk will stop after taking that medicine,” Sidik said.
Sidik added that guards at the camp were raping female prisoners and even inserting electric batons into their private parts to rape and torture them. She recalled witnessing the death of a girl aged between 18 and 20, who died from bleeding nonstop for two months.
Eventually, Sidik left her job and escaped to the Netherlands, where she lives now. However, her husband, a Uyghur, remains in China.
After she went public with her experiences in the camp, she said she received threats from Chinese police, who contacted her using the social media accounts belonging to her sister and husband.
“I [have] lost contact with my family members, including my husband. I’m not sure whether my husband is still alive or not,” Sidik said.
Rep. Neal Dunn (R-Fla.), a select committee member, spoke at the hearing about how he was disturbed by the CCP’s practice of forced organ harvesting. He pointed to the transplantation data in the United States and questioned why waiting times for organs in China are so much shorter.
There are more than 104,000 patients on the national transplant waiting list, according to the Health Resources and Services Administration, an agency under the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The large number exists despite nearly 43,000 transplants last year, a new annual record and an increase of 3.7 percent over 2021.
“So how is it that in China, wait times for hearts and lungs are significantly shorter than in other countries?” Dunn said. Articles suggest that patients are even given their surgery dates well in advance.
“This seemingly unlimited supply of organs tells us—organs are harvested on demand.”
As evidence, Dunn presented findings gathered by the Independent Tribunal Into Forced Organ Harvesting In China, an independent people’s tribunal chaired by Sir Geoffrey Nice QC, who previously led the prosecution of former Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic for war crimes at the International Criminal Tribunal.
“The Tribunal’s members are certain—unanimously, and sure beyond reasonable doubt—that in China forced organ harvesting from prisoners of conscience has been practiced for a substantial period of time involving a very substantial number of victims,” Dunn said, quoting from the tribunal’s 2018 interim judgment (pdf).
The judgment also concluded that the Chinese regime had been harvesting organs from prisoners of conscience for years “on a significant scale,” with Falun Gong practitioners being the primary source of the donor organs.
Falun Gong, or Falun Dafa, is a spiritual practice consisting of meditative exercises and moral teachings. By 1999, seven years after the practice was introduced to the public, there were 70 million to 100 million adherents in China, according to estimates.
Seeing the practice’s popularity as a threat to its rule, the Chinese regime launched a brutal campaign to persecute Falun Gong practitioners in July 1999 to eradicate the practice, targeting innocents in a violent, deadly suppression that experts have described as genocide.
The China Tribunal presented its full judgment in March 2020, detailing a range of evidence to support its conclusion that the state-sanctioned forced organ harvesting continues unabated in China. It pointed out that imprisoned Falun Gong practitioners and Uyghurs were subjected to widespread blood tests and other medical tests, but other prisoners were not tested.
While the Tribunal could not draw a definitive conclusion that imprisoned Uyhgurs were also victims of forced organ harvesting, it said that “the vulnerability of the Uyghurs to being used as a bank of organs is … obvious.”
One of the witnesses at the hearing, Adrian Zenz, senior fellow and director in China Studies at the Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation in Washington, told lawmakers that Chinese transplant doctors had removed the prisoners’ organs while they were still alive and killed them in the process when answering a question from select committee member Rep. Carlos Giménez (R-Fla.).
“My colleague at Victims of Communism, Matthew Robertson, has published a paper in America’s leading transplant journal examining over 100,000 Chinese academic research papers and closely looking at 2,800 of them,” Zenz said.
“And in 71 Chinese research papers, he found in the text evidence that basically, the donor rule was not observed, meaning that several of the persons in question were executed through organ extraction.”
The paper, published in the American Journal of Transplantation in April 2022, found instances of Chinese transplant doctors breaking the “dead donor rule,” which states that organ donors must be dead before procurement of organs begins, and organ procurement must not cause the death of the donor.
In other words, Chinese doctors began removing organs from death-row prisoners and prisoners of conscience before they were diagnosed correctly as brain dead, which is a precondition to organ extraction, according to the paper.
“We found that the physicians became the executioners on behalf of the state and that the method of execution was heart removal,” Robertson said in a statement about his study, co-authored with Israeli cardiac transplantation surgeon Jacob Lavee. “These surgeries are highly profitable for the doctors and hospitals that engage in them.”
After hearing Zenz’s remarks, Giménez expressed concerns about a future dominated by the CCP.
“I find the Chinese Communist Party not only repressive and brutal, it’s also barbaric,” Giménez said. “And if we don’t do something about it, and we don’t stop this, then my fear is that my children and my grandchildren will one day face a world where they’re going to be dominated by this party.”
President Joe Biden said Friday that the United States doesn’t seek conflict with Iran but is prepared to act forcefully to protect American lives after he authorized a strike targeting Iranian-affiliated assets in Syria in retaliation for an Iranian drone attack.
During a press conference with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in Ottawa, Biden offered condolences to the family of the American contractor killed in an Iranian drone attack on a coalition base in Syria on March 23.
“My heart and deepest condolences go out to the family of the American we lost, and we wish a speedy recovery for those who are wounded,” Biden said.
The Pentagon said an Iranian-backed militant group used an unmanned aerial vehicle to strike a maintenance facility in northeast Syria, killing one U.S. citizen and wounding several others. Two wounded service members were treated on site while three were medically evacuated to coalition medical facilities in Iraq.
In response to the drone attack, Biden ordered a series of strikes in eastern Syria against facilities affiliated with Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC).
“We will take all necessary measures to defend our people and will always respond at a time and place of our choosing,” said Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin, in a statement. “No group will strike our troops with impunity.”
The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said Saturday that the U.S. strike left 19 people dead.
Speaking at the press conference in Canada, Biden said the airstrikes in Syria targeted those responsible for attacking U.S. personnel while warning against actions targeting Americans in the region.
“Make no mistake: The United States does not—does not, I emphasize—seek conflict with Iran, but be prepared for us to act forcefully to protect our people,” the president warned.
“That’s exactly what happened last night,” the president added. “And we’re going to continue to keep up our efforts to counter terrorist threats in the region, in partnerships with Canada and other members of the coalition, to defeat ISIS.”
The U.S. airstrike marked the first military action taken by Biden since taking office.
Pentagon spokesperson Brig. Gen. Patrick Ryder told reporters Friday that the operation was intended “to send a very clear message that we will take the protection of our personnel seriously, and that we will respond quickly and decisively if they are threatened.”
Ryder described the strikes as “proportionate and deliberate action intended to limit the risk of escalation to minimize casualties.”
“We do not seek conflict with Iran,” Ryder said, echoing Biden’s remarks. “But the strikes that we took last night were intended to send a very clear message that we will take the protection of our personnel seriously and that we will respond quickly and decisively, if they’re threatened.”
Following Friday’s airstrike by U.S. forces, groups affiliated with Iran reportedly launched another round of rockets targeting American assets.
U.S. officials said that multiple drones were launched at the Green Village in northeast Syria, where American troops are based. According to officials, no one was injured in those strikes.
The United States has around 900 troops in eastern Syria to assist Syrian Kurdish forces in preventing the ISIS terror group from making a resurgence.
CENTCOM commander Gen. Erik Kurilla said Thursday that Iranian proxies have attacked U.S. troops in Iraq and Syria nearly 80 times since Biden took office, using drones and rockets.
Republican lawmakers criticized Biden’s response to the Iranian drone attack.
In a tweet Friday, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) called the response “weak” and said that Biden and his national security team “are letting America down.”
“I fear General Milley and Secretary of Defense Austin are not proving to be up to the task of providing the deterrence America needs to remain safe. However, the ultimate blame for the failing foreign policy and military situation we find ourselves in lies with President Biden,” Graham wrote.
“President Biden owes it to those Americans fighting radical Islam to respond vigorously to any attack on them and their position by Iranian proxies. The weak, uncertain response to the initial attack obviously did not work,” Graham continued.
“America has only one path available when attacked—respond swiftly and vigorously with overwhelming, punishing force designed to make enemies wary of engaging with the United States. Being strong is the best deterrence against future attacks,” he added.
Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.), argued that Biden’s strikes were too little, too late.
“Indefensible that American life must be lost before Joe Biden acts,” Cotton wrote in a tweet.
“Had he responded in force to dozens of earlier Iranian attacks, this tragedy could have been prevented. [Austin] needs to explain why he isn’t doing more to deter Iran.”
Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear on Friday vetoed a bill that the state GOP said would have “protected our children by preventing minors from accessing life-altering sex change surgery and drugs.”
The Republican-backed measure “allows too much government interference in personal health care issues and rips away the freedom of parents to make medical decisions for their children,” the Democratic governor said in a veto letter.
Beshear noted that Senate Bill 150 also “strips freedom” from parents to make “personal family decisions” around what names their children should be called “and how people should refer to them.”
“SB 150 also turns educators and administrators into investigators that must listen in on student conversations and then knock on doors to confront and question parents and families about how students behave and/or refer to themselves or others,” Beshear wrote (pdf).
The Democratic governor went on to cite his “faith” as another reason he vetoed the bill, saying it “teaches me that all children are children of God” and the proposed law would “endanger the children of Kentucky.”
Beshear cited suicide rates amongst LGBT youth in expressing his concern for the state’s minors suffering from gender dysphoria.
“For these reasons, I am vetoing Senate Bill 150,” Beshear wrote.
According to regretful “destransitioners,” i.e. people who sought to reverse their gender reassignment treatments, suicide rates are a common argument proffered by health care providers and transgender advocates to parents whose children fit certain characteristics that suggest gender dysphoria.
The vetoed bill sailed through the Republican-controlled state legislature and is expected to return and potentially be overridden.
The bill sought to make children wait until they’re 18 to undergo life-altering treatments, such as puberty blockers, hormone therapies, surgeries that slice off healthy body parts, and inpatient and outpatient gender-affirming hospital services.
The measure would also ban sex-based discussion in schools, such as topics centered around LGBT orientation and gender identity, with students of any age. It also would have allowed teachers to refuse to use a student’s preferred pronouns.
Under the proposed law, doctors would be required to set a timeline to safely “detransition” children who’ve already started taking puberty blockers or hormone therapy. This would include weaning them off the drugs if immediately stopping could cause harm.
Some young people who now regret undergoing the treatment have spoken out against the health care provided to them. Some have said they now live with pain and decried the “lies” they say they were told by health care providers and LGBT advocates to convince them to “transition.”
Republicans criticized the veto, with the state GOP declaring Beshear as out of touch with the people.
“It’s obvious more than ever, that Beshear is NOT the moderate he pretends to be but is instead a left-wing Radical,” the Kentucky Republican Party stated on Twitter.
The original bill moved swiftly through the state legislature prior to a legislative break on March 16.
After signing the veto, Beshear told reporters he had been contacted by transgender children and their parents who believe this bill is “picking on them” and asking “why?”
“I told them that I was going to show them that there is at least one person in Frankfort that cares for all of our children in the commonwealth, no matter what,” he said.
Beshear’s move to veto the bill comes in an election year, where he plans to seek reelection for a second term as governor.
Some of the governor’s supporters have suggested that the veto will form part of the GOP’s narrative in attacking Beshear in a gubernatorial election year.
In fact, the Kentucky GOP shared a political video ad showing the state’s education commissioner, Jason Glass, saying teachers may need to find other jobs if they “cannot execute the policies of the district,” such as using a student’s preferred pronouns.