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CNN Hosts Respond To Brittney Griner Release: She ‘Represents Everything In This Country’

On Thursday, in response to the news that WNBA player Brittney Griner had been released from Russian captivity in a prisoner exchange for a notorious Russian arms dealer, CNN hosts praised Griner and said she “represents everything in this country.”

Griner had been arrested in February at a Moscow airport for drug smuggling charges. She was sentenced in August to nine years in prison. Griner has previously faced legal trouble after being arrested for domestic violence in 2015.

“I would be remiss if we did not mention also the importance this plays for the LGBTQ community,” CNN’s Don Lemon said of Griner’s release. “It shows the struggles and the danger that members of the LGBT community face around the world.”

“Brittney Griner represents everything in this country,” CNN’s Van Jones added. “She’s female. She’s LGBTQ. She’s black. And she’s extraordinary. She’s excellent. She’s overcome. She’s an icon. […] She was snatched off a plane and treated like trash.”

The flag of the People's Republic of China flies in the wind above the Consulate General of the People's Republic of China in San Francisco, California on July 23, 2020. - The US Justice Department announced July 23, 2020 the indictments of four Chinese researchers it said lied about their ties to the People's Liberation Army, with one escaping arrest by taking refuge in the country's San Francisco consulate. (Photo by Philip Pacheco / AFP) (Photo by PHILIP PACHECO/AFP via Getty Images)

South Carolina Gov Bans State Employees From Using TikTok Over National Security Concerns

On Monday, South Carolina Governor Henry McMaster (R) took action to make his state the second in the country to ban state employees’ electronic devices from using TikTok as federal officials warn about the Chinese-based social media app’s threat to national security.

In a letter to South Carolina Department of Administration Director Marcia Adams, Governor McMaster requested “that the social media platform TikTok be permanently removed, and access blocked from all state government electronic devices that are managed by the Department of Administration.”

“Protecting our State’s critical cyber infrastructure from foreign and domestic threats is key to ensuring the health, safety, and well-being of our citizens and businesses,” he continued. “Federal law enforcement and national security officials have warned that TikTok poses a clear and present danger to its users, and a growing bi-partisan coalition in Congress is pushing to ban access to TikTok in the United States.”

“The General Assembly has recognized the dangers and inefficiencies of our State’s ‘siloed’ cyber infrastructure and has encouraged state agencies to partner with the department. This partnership allows the State’s cyber infrastructure to be maintained and managed in a comprehensive and cohesive fashion,” he added. “Unfortunately, there are a number of state agencies who continue to operate in a silo. I ask that you provide my office with a listing of state agencies for whom the department is unable to permanently block access to TikTok.”

The news comes weeks after FBI Director Christopher Wray warned that he is “extremely concerned” about TikTok’s operations in the United States.

“We do have national security concerns, obviously from the FBI’s end, about TikTok,” Wray told the House Homeland Security Committee in a hearing. “They include the possibility that the Chinese government could use it to control data collection on millions of users, or control the recommendation algorithm which could be used for influence operations if they so choose, or to control software on millions of devices.”

(Photo by Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images)

Sen. Cruz On Biden Admin’s Response To China’s Lockdown Protests: ‘Pure Weakness’

On Monday, Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) slammed the Biden administration’s statement responding to the Chinese people’s protests of the Communist country’s strict COVID-19 lockdown policies that protestors say contributed to the deaths of 10 people in a fire last week at a residential building in Urumqi, the capital of China’s far western region of Xinjiang.

The Biden administration’s response focused on the lack of efficacy of a “zero COVID” approach instead of the freedom of the Chinese people.

“We’ve said that zero COVID is not a policy we are pursuing here in the United States. And as we’ve said, we think it’s going to be very difficult for the People’s Republic of China to be able to contain this virus through their zero-COVID strategy,” a National Security Council spokesperson said in a statement.

“For us, we are focused on what works and that means using public health tools like: continuing to enhance vaccination rates, including boosters and making testing and treatment easily accessible,” the statement added. “We’ve long said everyone has the right to peacefully protest, here in the United States and around the world. This includes in the PRC.”

Senator Cruz called the Biden administration’s response “Pitiful.”

“At a potentially historic inflection point, Dems shill for the CCP. Pure weakness from the Biden administration,” he continued.

“It’s almost as if Biden wishes he was driving a tank in Tiananmen Square,” Cruz added, referring to the 1989 pro-democracy protests in Beijing that ended in the massacre of at least 10,000 civilians by the Chinese government.

(Photo by ANTHONY WALLACE/AFP via Getty Images)

BBC Journalist ‘Beaten And Kicked’ By Chinese Police After Being Arrested For Covering Protests

Chinese police kicked and beat a BBC journalist after he was arrested for covering the biggest protests by the Chinese people since the 1989 Tiananmen Square protests during which the Chinese government massacred over 10,000 civilians.

BBC reporter Edward Lawrence was arrested by Chinese police while covering protests of China’s strict COVID-19 lockdowns that erupted following last week’s deadly fire at a residential building in Urumqi, the capital of China’s far western region of Xinjiang, that killed 10 people and injured nine others. Protestors say that the lockdowns contributed to the deaths as residents of the city have been prevented from leaving their homes for months.

“I’m at the scene of last night’s extraordinary anti Covid-zero protest in Shanghai. Many people are gathered here quietly watching. Lots of cops. Two girls laid flowers which were promptly removed by police. One man drove past with middle finger up at police,” Lawrence reported. “[S]ome small crowds are gathered on the sidewalks quietly watching the scene and the police presence.”

“I’ve seen several people with flowers. One girl was holding a blank piece of paper. One man has just approached me to say his flowers were confiscated by police. As he tells me this, two cops come over to listen to our conversation,” he added. “The crowd has grown from maybe a few dozen to several hundred. I’ve seen the police arrest three people – two of whom then fought with police. There’s a silent tension until one person shouts, and then the crowd chants and claps in support. I’m told by friends that police have blocked the roads around this area and they’re not letting people through.”

Lawrence was then arrested by Chinese police and was “beaten and kicked” while he was detained, according to the BBC.

“The BBC is extremely concerned about the treatment of our journalist Ed Lawrence, who was arrested and handcuffed while covering the protests in Shanghai,” the BBC said in a statement. “He was held for several hours before being released. During his arrest, he was beaten and kicked by the police. This happened while he was working as an accredited journalist.”

“It is very worrying that one of our journalists was attacked in this way whilst carrying out his duties,” the statement added. “We have had no official explanation of apology from the Chinese authorities, beyond a claim by the officials who later released him that they had arrested him for his down good in case he caught Covid from the crowd. We do not consider this a credible explanation.”

(Photo by Melina Mara-Pool/Getty Images)

White House Defends Granting Immunity To Saudi Crown Prince Despite Biden Vow To Make ‘Pariah’ Of Kingdom

During Friday’s press briefing, White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre defended President Biden’s decision to grant immunity to Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman despite Biden promising during his 2020 presidential campaign to make the kingdom “pay the price” for human rights abuses and “make them in fact the pariah that they are.”

“On the brief the State Department filed last night in the Jamal Khashoggi litigation, does the President have any concerns that the administration may be sending the wrong message about his commitment to holding the Saudis accountable on human rights?  And can you say whether he signed off on that brief?” a reporter asked.

“So, just — just let me just say at the top, just so that there’s clarity — and I know that you’ve heard from the State Department on this as well, and other colleagues,” Jean-Pierre responded. “At the request of a federal district court for U.S. government views on whether Mohammed bin Salman enjoys head of state immunity, the Department of Justice, at the request of the Department of State, informed the court that Prime Minister bin Salman is immune from suit in the U.S. — in U.S. courts while he holds the office of prime minister.”

“It’s nothing to do with the merits of this case; I want to be very clear on this.  But this is something that State Department and the Department of Justice has more details on, so I would certainly refer you — refer you to them,” she added.

Biden’s decision to grant immunity to Salman despite his campaign promise comes after he visited Saudi Arabia in July as part of a diplomatic effort to discuss energy production and other matters. During the visit, Biden greeted Salman with a fist bump, drawing backlash from those who pointed out his human rights abuses. For example, the Saudi ruler notoriously approved the killing of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi in 2018 and defended the genocide of Uyghur Muslims in China in 2019, saying that “China has the right to carry out anti-terrorism and de-extremization work for its national security.”

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