China

David Krayden | Ottawa Bureau Chief

OTTAWA — Official Opposition Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer said Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s antics on the world stage have damaged the country’s reputation around the world.

“I think it’s clear under Justin Trudeau that our foreign policy has been set way back. He liked to say when he was first elected that ‘Canada’s back’ — well he’s put us back now after years of disasters on the world stage,” Scheer told an audience of about 1,500 at the Manning Networking Conference on Saturday in Ottawa.

Conservative Party of Canada Leader Andrew Scheer discusses Canadian politics with CTV News anchor Mercedes Stephenson at the Manning Networking Conference in Ottawa, Canada on March 23, 2019. Daily Caller photo by Janet Krayden.

Conservative Party of Canada Leader Andrew Scheer (R) discusses Canadian politics with Global News anchor Mercedes Stephenson at the Manning Networking Conference in Ottawa, Canada on March 23, 2019. Daily Caller photo by Janet Krayden.

One of those “disasters,” Scheer maintained, was “Trudeau’s trip to India,” a widely scorned diplomatic and trade mission that featured many photo ops in traditional Indian dress. “I don’t think they believe they’re dealing with a serious person,” he said.

On the increasing divide between Canada and China, the opposition leader cited Trudeau’s infamous declaration that he most admired China’s command economy, saying, “We need a prime minister who doesn’t admire the basic dictatorship of China.” (RELATED: China Calls Trudeau ‘Irresponsible’ For Criticizing Canadian’s Death Sentence)

Moving to domestic issues, Scheer promised to balance the federal budget, rejecting Trudeau’s contention that “the budget will balance itself.”

Scheer suggested the prime minister would continue to spend more money than he takes in because “that’s basic economics that Trudeau doesn’t understand.”

Canada's Prime Minister Justin Trudeau speaks at a news conference in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, March 7, 2019. REUTERS/Patrick Doyle

Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau speaks at a news conference in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, March 7, 2019. REUTERS/Patrick Doyle

Scheer said Trudeau’s “celebrity status … and the facade is falling and the real Justin Trudeau is coming out,” which makes it easier for the opposition leader define himself. He was referring to a judicial interference scandal where Trudeau is alleged to have intervened to help a major Quebec contracting firm SLC-Lavalin avoid prosecution on bribery and fraud charges. (RELATED: Calls For Trudeau’s Resignation After Explosive Testimony From Former AG)

Scheer dismissed Trudeau’s budget that was released this week as an attempt to “change the channel on the corruption channel he is embroiled in” while “ramping up massive amounts of new spending that leads to massive new deficits, all of which leads to new taxes if he is re-elected.”

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Audrey Conklin | Reporter

China’s communist government has been steadily trying to eradicate a Muslim ethnic group in the ancient city of Urumqui for several years, though the impact hasn’t been completely visible until now.

While the West has only known about this crisis in Urumqui for several years because of the area’s strict government security, China is making steady progress with its destruction of a once-vibrant community, The Wall Street Journal reports.

Nearly 13 million Turcik Muslims — the majority of whom are Uighur Muslims — make up the northwestern territory of Xinjiang, China, where Urumqui is located. Turcik Muslims have appeared in recorded Chinese history since the third century A.D.

In the city of Urumqi specifically, Uighurs make up about 13 percent of the total population. In 2017, however, the total population of the city fell 15 percent, from 2.6 million to 2.2 million.

The government has already succeeded in forcing about 1 million Uighur people into internment camps that they’ve dubbed “boarding schools” or “re-education camps” in an effort to suppress their religious beliefs, which Chinese officials say will stay unless Uighurs give up Islam. In more recent developments, the government is destroying homes, businesses and general Uighur existence in the area. (RELATED: China Strongly Implies Muslim Internment Camps Will Never Go Away)

“When plans for Urumqi’s urban overhaul were announced in 2017, the party-controlled Xinjiang Daily said the government would offer compensation to residents forced to move, and planned new residential districts ‘designed with full consideration of the customs and convenience of all ethnic groups,’” The Journal explains.

An ethnic Uighur women reads a newspaper on display on a notice board in the city of Urumqi in China's Xinjiang Autonomous Region/ REUTERS/David Gray

An ethnic Uighur women reads a newspaper on display on a notice board in the city of Urumqi in China’s Xinjiang Autonomous Region/ REUTERS/David Gray

While there were about 400 active mosques in Uighur in 2015, there are now only bare-boned remnants of places of worship. Traditional Uighur restaurants and food stands have closed; Uighur language books have been removed from stores; signs written in the Uighur language have been replaced by Chinese characters; homes have been destroyed as Uighur communities are forced out of the area. And as these places disappear, they are replaced by stores and restaurants meant to appeal to Chinese tourists.

The government has allocated billions to Urumqi for infrastructure spending. In 2017, fixed assets exceeded $30 billion to invest in infrastructure, factories and other building (or rebuilding) plans for the city. In 2018, Urumqi spent $10 billion to destroy the city’s increasingly abandoned outskirts.

And those Uighur people who are still living outside of internment camps organized by the government have been subject to massively invasive digital surveillance. (RELATED: Uighur Muslim Woman Recalls Torture In Chinese Government Internment Camp: ‘I Thought I Would Rather Die’)

As The Journal explains, “It is nearly impossible to move about the region without feeling the unrelenting gaze of the government. Citizens and visitors alike must run a daily gauntlet of police checkpoints, surveillance cameras and machines scanning their ID cards, faces, eyeballs and sometimes entire bodies.”

The Chinese government justifies its massive crackdown on this specific population of citizens as a way to keep China unified and safe from radical Islamic terrorism.

A recent TIME magazine article says China has arrested nearly 13,000 people it describes as terrorists in Xinjiang.

According to Human Rights Watch, “Domestic state media reports and government documents do talk about the [detainment] camps. They explain that these camps are necessary to cure the minds of Turkic Muslims who have an ‘ideological illness.’”

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Evie Fordham | Politics and Health Care Reporter

President Donald Trump announced on Twitter Friday he was reversing course on new sanctions on Chinese companies doing business with North Korea.

“It was announced today by the U.S. Treasury that additional large scale Sanctions would be added to those already existing Sanctions on North Korea,” Trump wrote. “I have today ordered the withdrawal of those additional Sanctions!”

The U.S. Treasury had announced the new sanctions Thursday, not Friday as Trump wrote, and they immediately received “swift pushback” from both the Chinese and North Korean governments, reported Fox News. (RELATED: Dan Crenshaw Breaks Silence On Trump’s McCain Feud)

“President Trump likes Chairman Kim [Jong Un] and he doesn’t think these sanctions will be necessary,” White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said when asked about Trump’s tweet.

President Donald Trump (R) and North Korea's leader Kim Jong Un hold a meeting during the second US-North Korea summit at the Sofitel Legend Metropole hotel in Hanoi on February 28, 2019. (SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images)

President Donald Trump (R) and North Korea’s leader Kim Jong Un hold a meeting during the second US-North Korea summit at the Sofitel Legend Metropole hotel in Hanoi on February 28, 2019. (SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images)

Trump’s decision came a day after Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin detailed the U.S. decision to impose sanctions on two China-based companies.

“The United States and our like-minded partners remain committed to achieving the final, fully verified denuclearization of North Korea and believe that the full implementation of North Korea-related UN Security Council resolutions is crucial to a successful outcome,” Mnuchin said in a statement Thursday, according to Fox News. “Treasury will continue to enforce our sanctions, and we are making it explicitly clear that shipping companies employing deceptive tactics to mask illicit trade with North Korea expose themselves to great risk.”

Trump and Kim may have another summit this year after their most recent summit in late February fell apart.

Trump had used Twitter in early March to weigh in on the U.S. and South Korea’s decision to end their annual large-scale joint military exercises.

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Whitney Tipton | Contributor

Parents in China have spent millions of dollars on application coaches to get their kids into premium U.S. colleges, according to an investigation by Foreign Policy.

Chinese parents have reportedly employed consultants to increase their children’s chances of being accepted into a choice school, using similar tactics to those of U.S. parents recently arrested in a highly-publicized college bribery scheme.

China represented the largest number of foreign students attending U.S. colleges in 2018, with 340,000 enrolled, according to the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). (RELATED: Charity That allegedly Took Bribes To Get Millionaires Into College Claimed To Be About Helping The Underprivileged)

A candidate reviews before entering an exam site for the National College Entrance Examination (aka Gaokao) at Nanjing No.29 High School on June 7, 2018 in Nanjing, Jiangsu Province of China. (Photo by VCG/VCG via Getty Images)

A candidate reviews before entering an exam site for the National College Entrance Examination (aka Gaokao) at Nanjing No.29 High School on June 7, 2018 in Nanjing, Jiangsu Province of China. (Photo by VCG/VCG via Getty Images)

Hundreds of companies in China offer students application guidance, according to Foreign Policy. Hiring a coaching “agent” is common and can cost as much as $90,000, but this big price tag reportedly guarantees at least three acceptances into a “Top 60” school.

Paid agents suggest extracurricular activities and assist with SAT and ACT preparation. They also help applicants write their personal essay, a critical application component students struggle with because the American essay style is vastly different from Chinese written language.

For $29,800, another company named Bonday offers students pre-application advice, “soft-skills” training, and essay tailoring. They boast acceptances into Princeton and Harvard. Yingtai Education charges $14,900 for similar services, while a company called Jiazhou charges $7,150 for straight application preparation.

Most of the companies interviewed by Foreign Policy denied blatant essay ghostwriting, but some acknowledged that parents expect the counselors to write essays wholesale for the students.

“Unethical behavior is still pretty rampant,” Nina Suet, founder and CEO of Shang Learning. Suet told Foreign Policy that her company adheres to ethical standards on counseling students through the Independent Educational Consultants Association.

U.S. schools are weary of fraud, however, and several colleges have reportedly engaged third parties to verify that Chinese students match their applications in real life.

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Graeme Gallagher | Contributor

Six people have been killed and 30 are seriously injured after a chemical plant explosion in eastern China on Thursday.

Occurring at around 2:50 p.m. local time, the blast at the Jiangsu Tianjiayi Chemical factory, which produces fertilizer and pesticides, created a fireball and billowing clouds over the industrial park area in Yancheng, Jiangsu, province, according to BBC.

Damaging further buildings in the radius, the explosion is believed to have caused a 2.2-magnitude earthquake that was recorded by China’s earthquake administration at the same time as the factory erupted.

Videos and images of the deadly explosion have surfaced social media. (RELATED: Multiple Fatalities After Explosion Devastates Kindergarten In China)

Shockwaves from the explosion shattered nearby windows of residential buildings and destroyed cars, injuring many through flying debris. Children are among those injured as online maps show 10 schools are within the 5K radius of the explosion.

“Workers were trapped after buildings were knocked down by the shock wave, which also shattered windows of nearby homes,” reported state-run news agency Xinhua. “Witnesses said many workers were seen running out of the factory covered in blood after the blast.”

A total of 176 fire trucks and 928 firefights have been sent to the site for rescue operations and to combat the ongoing flames from the blast. (RELATED: China Backs Venezuela’s Claim That Blackout Is Result Of U.S. Sabotage, Offers Help)

Paramilitary police officers and a medical staff transfer an injuried man as smoke rises from an explosion site behind them in Yancheng in China's eastern Jiangsu province on March 21, 2019. (STR/AFP/Getty Images)

Paramilitary police officers and a medical staff transfer an injuried man as smoke rises from an explosion site behind them in Yancheng in China’s eastern Jiangsu province on March 21, 2019. (STR/AFP/Getty Images)

The chemical company, Tianjiayi Chemical, was founded in 2007 and was listed by the State Administration of Work Safety to have had 13 safety problems, including a lack of safety training among management, at the plant. In addition, the company has received past punishments for “failures regarding solid waste management, environmental impact assessments and air pollution,” according to the South China Morning Post.

Industrial accidents have become prevalent in the East Asian country, as poor safety regulations have led to past factory explosions.

Two massive explosions, linked to haphazard management of explosive materials and poor regulations, in the port of Tianjin killed more than 160 people in 2015. Similarly, another explosive, due to problems in their safety management systems, in the Hebei province, near Beijing, killed 23 people last year.

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Tim Pearce | Energy Reporter

U.S. scientists reportedly purchased hundreds of cats and dogs from Asian meat markets, used them for experiments and fed the remains to other lab cats, according to the White Coat Waste Project.

Scientists reportedly conducted the experiments at the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s lab in Maryland between 2003 and 2015. The experiments involved hundreds of animals from markets in Colombia, Brazil, Vietnam, China and Ethiopia, according to the watchdog group. Some of the meat markets in question have been condemned by Congress.

“It’s crazy,” former USDA scientist Jim Keen told NBC News, which obtained a copy of the report. “Cannibal cats, cats eating dogs — I don’t see the logic.”

“It’s totally unrelated to the food safety mission,” Keen said. “We shouldn’t be paying for that as taxpayers.”

Lawmakers are already targeting the Agriculture Department labs with legislation to curb testing on cats. (RELATED: Congressmen Introduce Bill To Stop Government Cat Killers)

“The details of these kitten experiments keep getting worse and they need to end now,” Republican Rep. Brian Mast of Florida told NBC. “The fact that the USDA has been rounding up pets and other innocent dogs and cats in foreign countries — including at Chinese meat markets condemned by Congress — killing them and feeding them to lab cats back here in the States is simply disgusting and unjustifiable.”

Cat smacking her lips. Shutterstock/AltamashUrooj

Cat smacking her lips. Shutterstock/AltamashUrooj

Mast is a cosponsor of the legislation called Kittens in Traumatic Testing Ends Now, or KITTEN.

The White Coat Waste Project previously uncovered other cat-related experiments in a 2018 report.

After the experiments are completed, the kittens are often euthanized and their bodies burned, according to the report.

The USDA did not immediately respond to The Daily Caller News Foundation’s request for comment.

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Tim Pearce | Energy Reporter

Used aluminum cans are piling up in scrap yards as the market for aluminum recyclables shrinks in size and profitability, The Wall Street Journal reports.

The price for used aluminum cans tanked 30 percent since the summer of 2018. Aluminum rollers are cutting recycled aluminum from cans out of their business models to prioritize more profitable areas of business. (RELATED: Study: Plastic Packaging Bans Hurt The Environment More Than They Help)

Old aluminum cans are limited in what aluminum products they can be used in. Car and airplane manufacturers tend to stay away from using aluminum made from recycled cans. Aluminum producers are turning away from the used can market despite facing social pressure to embrace recycling, WSJ reports.

The slowdown in recycling aluminum cans comes amid a downturn the recycling market more broadly. Chinese tariffs and increased standards in recyclables’ purity have tanked the price of scrap paper and used plastic in the U.S.

“Recycling as we know it isn’t working,” Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, Solid Waste Management Authority chief James Warner told WSJ in March 2018. “There’s always been ups and downs in the market, but this is the biggest disruption that I can recall.”

China served as the hub of the recycling market for years, taking up to 70 percent of the world’s plastic waste before throttling down on plastic imports in 2018, according to NPR. No other country has the infrastructure and capacity to process recycled goods like China, and now trash is piling up in developed countries as they look for new buyers of used plastic, paper and aluminum.

A laborer works at a paper products recycling station in Shanghai, China November 17, 2017. REUTERS/Aly Song

A laborer works at a paper products recycling station in Shanghai, China November 17, 2017. REUTERS/Aly Song

Prior to 2018, the U.S. took advantage of China’s massive market for recyclables. Chinese recycling companies were able to use cheap labor to sort through mounds of recycled materials to pick out the most profitable pieces, something U.S. recyclers could not afford.

As U.S. companies sent more recyclables over to China, more junk became mixed in with recyclable material, eventually reaching a high of about 20 percent of used goods being worthless. In 2018, China set a standard of just 0.5 percent of worthless products allowed in each shipment of recyclables, a standard far too strict for American scrap companies to meet and maintain a profit, according to WSJ.

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Joshua Gill | Religion Reporter

Chinese authorities said they arrested nearly 13,000 “terrorists” and punished more than 30,000 for “illegal religious activities” in the Xinjiang region since 2014.

The Chinese government issued a report Monday about its ostensible security measures employed in Xinjiang, in response to international backlash about the use of internment camps, which officials call “vocational training centers,” and severe legal restrictions against Uyghur Muslims in the region, according to The Associated Press.

The government report claimed authorities have arrested 12,995 “terrorists,” seized 2,052 explosive devices, and broken up 1,588 “terrorist gangs” in the region since 2014. (RELATED: China Strongly Implies Muslim Internment Camps Will Never Go Away)

Government officials also said in the report that they confiscated 345,229 copies of “illegal religious publicity materials,” likely meaning Korans, as the Chinese government banned owning or selling a Koran in Xinjiang. Chinese authorities have provided little to no evidence that those who they charge with terrorism in the region actually have ties to foreign terrorist groups, as Beijing claims.

Chinese authorities also outlawed fasting during Ramadan, public prayer, beards and forbade anyone under the age of 18 from participating in religious services. Beijing’s severe crackdown against Islam in the region come as part of Chinese president Xi Jinping’s policy of sinicization, which is a campaign to bring all religions in line with the Communist Party’s vision of Chinese culture.

The report all but confirms Beijing’s goal of forcefully sinicizing the Uyghur Muslims, saying though it “cannot be denied that Xinjiang received the influence of Islamic culture,” it is an “objective fact” that Xinjiang’s culture is ultimately part of Chinese culture.

Workers walk by the perimeter fence of what is officially known as a vocational skills education centre in Dabancheng in Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region, China September 4, 2018. REUTERS/Thomas Peter

Workers walk by the perimeter fence of what is officially known as a vocational skills education centre in Dabancheng in Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region, China September 4, 2018. REUTERS/Thomas Peter

“Islam is not the natural faith of the Uyghurs and other ethnicities, nor is it their only faith,” the report reads.

Patrick Poon, an Amnesty International China researcher, said Beijing’s report proves Chinese authorities are using a vague definition of terrorism to justify what he says is the arbitrary arrest and detention of thousands of people.

“It’s exactly because of the Chinese government’s arbitrary and vague definition of these terms that leads to mass arbitrary detention of many ordinary people in Xinjiang,” Poon said, according to the AP.

Poon also criticized the Chinese government’s labeling of internment camps as “vocational training centers.”

“It’s simply not normal at all for people losing contact with their relatives if they are merely receiving ‘vocational training’ as the Chinese government claims,” Poon said.

Dilxat Raxit, a spokesman for the World Uyghur Congress, said China was using the report to try to garner international sympathy for its harsh treatment of Uyghurs.

Maya Wang, a senior China researcher for Human Rights Watch, went so far as to call China’s bluff, saying the government should open the camps to investigation if it had nothing to conceal.

“If the Chinese government is so certain that it has nothing to hide in Xinjiang, then it should allow independent international observers such as the U.N. into the region,” Wang said.

Former internment camp detainees claim camp officials subjected them to forced medication, forced medical procedures, inhumane living conditions, brainwashing and compelled them to renounce Islam and pledge their loyalty to the state.

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Scott Morefield | Reporter

General Joseph Dunford, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, had harsh words for Google’s relationship with China during a Thursday Senate Armed Services Committee hearing.

“The work that Google is doing in China is … indirectly benefiting the Chinese military,” Dunford told committee members during the defense budget hearing.

“Look, we’re the good guys. And the values that we represent, and the system that we represent is the one that will allow you, and has allowed you, to thrive,” he said in a paraphrase of how he describes the situation to “industry partners.”

Dunford characterized the work Google and other companies do in China as having “indirect benefit” before going even further.

We watch with great concern when industry partners work in China knowing that there is that indirect benefit. And frankly, ‘indirect’ may be not a full characterization of the way it really is. It’s more of a direct benefit to the Chinese military.

Republican Missouri Sen. Josh Hawley, a vocal opponent of some Big Tech practices, tweeted video of Dunford’s statement, calling it a “must watch video.” (RELATED: Half As Many Google Employees Protested Building Chinese Surveillance Tech As Protested Pentagon Project)

“We are in a struggle with the Chinese government over whether or not they’re going to become a regional or maybe global hegemon with values very different from ours, certainly values that do not favor freedom in the world, and we have an American company that does not want to do work with our Defense Department, which is one thing, but they’re happy to help the Chinese … military, at least indirectly,” said Hawley. “I think that’s just extraordinary.”

When asked by CNN, a Google spokesperson “declined to address Dunford’s comments that the company’s work was benefiting the Chinese military,” but did issue a statement to the network on work it does do with the Pentagon.

“We deeply respect the US military and we are working with them to solve problems in areas like cybersecurity, logistics, transportation and planning,” the spokesperson told CNN.

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Mark Whittington | Contributor

President Trump has already signed the directive establishing the United States Space Force. For now, the Space Force will be a new branch of the military subordinate to the Air Force much as the Marine Corps is part of the United States Navy. The new organization will be relatively small and will include current space war-fighting assets of the United States military.

The first threat the Space Force must face is the United States Congress, which may or may not approve the new service branch. Presuming that the Space Force survives the legislative process, it will face several real threats to America’s space assets.

Tthe Defense Intelligence Agency released a non-classified report in February noting that Russia, a declining former super power, and China, an aspiring super power, are developing technologies to attack American space assets, including communications, navigation, and reconnaissance satellites. North Korea and Iran, both rogue states, are also considered possible threats.

In 2007, China tested a space weapon that blew up a defunct weather satellite. The test was successful but created a swarm of space debris. In a real war, the use of such weapons would render space inaccessible because of the amount of debris the destruction of satellites would cause. Even so, China’s arsenal of space weapons still includes kinetic energy missiles.

The DIA report suggests that China and to a certain extent Russia are developing a range of approaches to disrupt and even destroy American satellites. These technologies include electronic jamming, cyberattacks, directed energy weapons, such as lasers, designed to not so much destroy as to blind satellites, and orbital weapons that could capture or deorbit American satellites.

Not only the United States military but American society is dependent on space-based assets. An “orbital Pearl Harbor” could wreck both the American economy and the United States military’s ability to wage war against distant enemies. At the same time, Russia and China are developing their own satellite systems to enhance their militaries’ ability to conduct operations across the world.

The United States Space Force’s main mission will be to harden and defend American space assets against attack and to strike at enemy nations’ satellites in the event of war. Space is a new environment for war fighting, with its unique challenges that Space Force supporters note cry out for a branch of the military that can focus on conflict in that realm.

Going forward, as the United States expands its influence into space, including the moon’s surface, the Space Force’s mission will necessarily expand to protect deep space assets, as well. China especially will be a competitor in a new race to the moon and beyond. A Space Force presence on the moon would serve a peace-keeping function, ensuring that any unfriendly power such as China or Russia will not be tempted to interfere with NASA, allied, or commercial operations on Earth’s nearest neighbor.

Space debris remains a chronic problem and is only getting worse as satellites reach the end of their useful lives. One possible mission for the Space Force would be to help clean up this debris. The task would provide an excellent peacetime practice for orbital operations, honing skills that would be useful in time of war.

The Space Force could also have a missile defense role. The Trump administration is interested in reviving the Reagan-era SDI program and deploy anti-missile weapons in space.

Just as aviation’s development in the 20th century led to the establishment of a separate United States Air Force soon after World War II, space as a venue for exploration, commercial enterprise, and military operations inevitably leads to a separate Space Force. The ability to keep the peace and, failing that, wage war in space are vital to the continuation of the United States, not only as a super power, but also a sovereign nation.

Mark Whittington (@MarkWhittington) is the author of Why is It So Hard to Go Back to the Moon? and The Moon, Mars and Beyond. He also operates his own blog, Curmudgeons Corner.


The views and opinions expressed in this commentary are those of the author and do not reflect the official position of The Daily Caller.

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