Diversity Training at the Air Force Academy has cadets using Gender Neutral language

Romans 1:28 “And since they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them up to a debased mind to do what ought not to be done.”

Important Takeaways:

  • Air Force Academy diversity training tells cadets to use words that ‘include all genders,’ drop ‘mom and dad’
  • The slide presentation titled, “Diversity & Inclusion: What it is, why we care, & what we can do,” obtained by Fox News Digital, advises cadets to use “person-centered” and gender-neutral language when describing individuals.
  • “Some families are headed by single parents, grandparents, foster parents, two moms, two dads, etc.: consider ‘parent or caregiver’ instead of ‘mom and dad,'” the presentation states. “Use words that include all genders: ‘Folks’ or ‘Y’all’ instead of ‘guys’; ‘partner’ vs. ‘boyfriend or girlfriend.’”

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China sends fighter jets as U.S. health chief visits Taiwan

By Yimou Lee and Ben Blanchard

TAIPEI (Reuters) – Chinese air force jets briefly crossed the mid-line of the Taiwan Strait on Monday and were tracked by Taiwanese missiles, Taiwan’s government said, as U.S. health chief Alex Azar visited the island to offer President Donald Trump’s support.

Azar arrived in Taiwan on Sunday, the highest-level U.S. official to visit in four decades.

China, which claims the island as its own, condemned the visit which comes after a period of sharply deteriorating relations between China and the United States.

China, which had promised unspecified retaliation to the trip, flew J-11 and J-10 fighter aircraft briefly onto Taiwan’s side of the sensitive and narrow strait that separates it from its giant neighbor, at around 9 am (0100 GMT), shortly before Azar met Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen, Taiwan’s air force said.

The aircraft were tracked by land-based Taiwanese anti-aircraft missiles and were “driven out” by patrolling Taiwanese aircraft, the air force said in a statement released by the defense ministry.

China’s defense ministry did not immediately comment.

A senior Taiwan official familiar with the government’s security planning told Reuters that China was obviously “targeting” Azar’s visit with a “very risky” move given the Chinese jets were in range of Taiwan’s missiles.

The incursion was only the third time since 2016 that Taiwan has said Chinese jets had crossed the strait’s median line.

The Trump administration has made strengthening its support for the democratic island a priority, amid deteriorating relations between Washington and Beijing, and has boosted arms sales.

“It’s a true honor to be here to convey a message of strong support and friendship from President Trump to Taiwan,” Azar told Tsai in the Presidential Office, standing in front of two Taiwanese flags.

Washington broke off official ties with Taipei in 1979 in favor of Beijing.

‘HUGE STEP’

Azar is visiting to strengthen economic and public-health cooperation with Taiwan and support its international role in fighting the novel coronavirus.

“Taiwan’s response to COVID-19 has been among the most successful in the world, and that is a tribute to the open, transparent, democratic nature of Taiwan’s society and culture,” he told Tsai.

Taiwan’s early and effective steps to fight the disease have kept its case numbers far lower than those of its neighbors, with 480 infections and seven deaths. Most cases have been imported.

The United States, which has had more coronavirus cases and deaths than any other country, has repeatedly clashed with China over the pandemic, accusing Beijing of lacking transparency.

Tsai told Azar his visit represented “a huge step forward in anti-pandemic collaborations between our countries”, mentioning areas of cooperation including vaccine and drug research and production.

Taiwan has been particularly grateful for U.S. support to permit its attendance at the World Health Organization’s decision-making body the World Health Assembly (WHA), and to allow it greater access to the organisation.

Taiwan is not a member of the WHO due to China’s objections. China considers Taiwan a Chinese province.

“I’d like to reiterate that political considerations should never take precedence over the rights to health. The decision to bar Taiwan from participating in the WHA is a violation of the universal rights to health,” Tsai said.

Azar later told reporters that at Trump’s direction, he and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo had sought to restore Taiwan’s status as an observer at the WHA.

“But the Chinese Communist Party and the World Health Organization have prevented that. This has been one of the major frustrations that the Trump administration has had with the World Health Organization and its inability to reform.”

(Reporting by Ben Blanchard and Yimou Lee; Editing by Lincoln Feast, Robert Birsel)

Military helps worn-out nurses, sicker patients in California COVID-19 effort

By Sharon Bernstein

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (Reuters) – All day long, as Air Force nurse Major Pinky Brewton cares for patients struggling to breathe in California’s COVID-19 ravaged San Joaquin Valley, fears for her family simmer underneath her cool exterior.

Once back in her Stockton hotel room, seeing her seven-year-old on Facetime, the relief is overwhelming.

“He’s breathing!” Brewton said. “That’s the first thing I see as a nurse. How well is my son breathing?”

Over the past two weeks, the U.S. Department of Defense has sent nearly 200 medics and logistics experts to the Valley. The military has also sent nearly 600 personnel to Texas, where a surge in COVID-19 cases is crushing hospitals along the Rio Grande Valley and elsewhere in the state.

The teams of nurses, doctors and technicians work extra shifts, treating sicker-than-usual hospital patients. Many are so weak from oxygen deprivation they can barely eat.

In the San Joaquin Valley agricultural region, intensive care units overflowed as cases surged earlier this summer. In some counties, as many as 28% of test results were positive.

At Dameron hospital in Stockton near the state capital of Sacramento, every nurse was soon deployed on a new COVID-19 floor, said Jennifer Markovich, the facility’s chief nursing officer.

“There wasn’t a slow ramp up. In the space of two weeks we just saw a significant increase in patients … and really started to see those staffing needs really escalate.”

CHAPLAINS, MENTAL HEALTH EXPERTS

When staffing agencies lacked healthcare workers, the hospital turned to the state, Markovich said. Under the Federal Emergency Management Agency, Brewton’s team of 20 military nurses and respiratory therapists came on board in mid-July.

About 160 Air Force medical staff have been sent to California so far, with about 100 in San Joaquin Valley, coordinated by 25 U.S. Army logistics experts trained in responding to nuclear, chemical and biological attacks.

Chaplains and mental health experts were added to relieve stress in a system stretched to its limits.

The teams, mostly stationed at Travis Air Force Base north of San Francisco, were easily absorbed into the rotations and work cultures of the Valley hospitals, said Lieutenant Colonel Ryan Gassman, who commands the California teams.

“It’s not like we have any Air Force tents that are set up outside,” Gassman said. “We are truly jumping into the staff in each of these hospitals to help support in any way, shape or form that we can.”

In addition to five hospitals in the San Joaquin Valley, military teams have also been deployed to the Los Angeles area and Rancho Mirage in Riverside County east of Los Angeles.

COVID-19 cases in California began climbing after Memorial Day, which health officials attributed in part to family gatherings without masks or physical distancing measures. Statewide, cases have topped 500,000, and over 9,000 Californians have died.

California, Texas, Florida and Arizona are among several hotspot U.S. states for a second wave of coronavirus cases.

FRAGILE HOSPITALS

In the San Joaquin Valley, a perfect storm of cultural, political and economic issues led to a crush of cases in a fragile rural and smaller-city hospital system.

The region is heavily Latino, a group making up 39% of California’s population but accounts for 56% of COVID-19 infections and 46% of deaths in the most populous U.S. state. Agricultural businesses that have not provided protective equipment to workers, or implemented social distancing or rules requiring masks has led to increased infections. Large family gatherings and multi-generational households have led to fast and deadly transmission, often to vulnerable older relatives.

The Valley, which includes the oil drilling and agricultural area around Bakersfield, and farmlands around Fresno, is generally more conservative than the rest of the state, and many local and congressional leaders have opposed rules requiring masks and social distancing.

The resulting toll is stark. As of Friday, only 20 intensive care unit beds were available for new patients in all of San Joaquin County, which has a population of nearly 800,000.

“The first thing I saw were really, really sick patients,” nurse Brewton said, describing her first day at Dameron. “The acuity of these patients are far more than what we see on a typical medical floor.”

(Reporting by Sharon Bernstein; editing by Bill Tarrant and Richard Chang)

Air Force agents raid military landlord’s Oklahoma office, seize computers

By M.B. Pell

(Reuters) – Air Force investigators raided the Oklahoma City offices of a major military landlord Tuesday morning, seizing computers and other material, in what the company said was part of an investigation into asbestos contamination.

The landlord, Balfour Beatty Communities, has been the focus of Reuters reports describing how it falsified maintenance records at several bases, allowing the company to collect millions in incentive bonus payments while military families awaited repairs. One of the bases Reuters described was Tinker Air Force in Oklahoma, the subject of Tuesday’s raid.

Linda Card, chief of public affairs for the Air Office of Special Investigations, confirmed the raid took place in cooperation with other federal agencies, but said she had no further details to share.

In a statement, Balfour Beatty said the federal action was related to a subpoena issued by the Environmental Protection Agency.

“The investigation is connected to the matter of asbestos flooring removal that was reported in September 2019. When that event occurred, BBC promptly and voluntarily reported the incident to the local Oklahoma Department of Environmental Quality,” it said. “The company will continue to cooperate fully with the investigation.”

At Tinker, Reuters in June documented how one family was left for months with deteriorating asbestos flooring even as Balfour Beatty’s maintenance records said, incorrectly, that the problem had been quickly fixed.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Air Force Office of Special Investigations have been investigating allegations of fraud at Tinker and two other Air Force bases where the company is landlord, John Henderson, the Air Force assistant secretary for installations, told Reuters last year. They are Travis in California and Fairchild in Washington State. Air Force agents are investigating additional fraud allegations at Mountain Home in Idaho and Lackland in Texas.

Balfour Beatty said it has hired an outside lawyer and auditor to examine the allegations.

Balfour Beatty Communities, based in Malvern, Pennsylvania, runs the military housing unit of Balfour Beatty plc, a London-based infrastructure company with annual revenue of $10.7 billion. The company earns $33 million in annual profit on its military housing operations, Balfour Beatty Communities President Chris Williams told Congress in February. The company operates 43,000 housing units at 55 Army, Navy and Air Force bases across the United States.

(Reporting by M.B. Pell in New York. Editing by Ronnie Greene)

U.S. senators call for banning, prosecuting ‘slumlords’ of military housing

By M.B. Pell

NEW YORK (Reuters) – U.S. senators on Tuesday demanded the Defense Department crack down on private landlords who provide substandard housing at military bases with criminal prosecutions or contract cancellations, citing Reuters reports of slum-like living conditions and falsified accounting.

The top civilian and military leaders of the Army, Navy and Air Force appeared before the Senate Armed Services Committee, in the latest hearing addressing substandard military housing.

On Tuesday, senators were presented with a new report from the Government Accountability Office, a Congressional watchdog conducting a review of the housing program that was launched following the Reuters reports. Among the GAO’s core findings: Housing reports sent to Congress are often misleading, painting a falsely positive picture of housing conditions. The program also suffers from inaccurate landlord maintenance reports and lax military oversight, the GAO reported.

To read the GAO report, click: https://bit.ly/35UzZbC

Some senators asked whether the military’s two-decade-old program of having private landlords provide housing on U.S. military bases has failed.

“Are any of them not acting like slumlords at this point? Are any of them doing a good job?” asked Senator Martha McSally, an Arizona Republican and former U.S. Air Force combat pilot. “This pisses me off.”

For more than a year, Reuters has exposed lead, asbestos, mold and vermin contaminating homes where private landlords house thousands of military families on behalf of the Pentagon. More recently, the news agency disclosed how one major landlord doctored maintenance records at some of its bases to help it collect bonus incentive fees.

To read the coverage, click: https://reut.rs/2r1Bkim

Top Defense Department officials have long touted high occupancy rates and satisfaction scores on military family surveys as evidence the effort is generally successful, despite occasional hiccups. But Elizabeth A. Field, the GAO’s director of defense capabilities and management, told senators: “There’s clearly a problem here.”

Army Secretary Ryan McCarthy defended the privatization effort, saying it allowed the military to tap private borrowing that would otherwise be unavailable.

“That doesn’t mean it’s worked out great,” added Acting Navy Secretary Thomas B. Modly. Some privatized housing is “fantastic,” he said, but other housing is not.

The secretaries cited reform steps already taken, including far-reaching inspections of military housing and a planned tenant bill of rights to empower military families.

Senators pressed the secretaries to do more to hold accountable military leaders and landlords.

Oklahoma Republican Jim Inhofe, chair of the Senate Armed Services Committee, asked Air Force Secretary Barbara M. Barrett why she couldn’t “pull the plug” on Balfour Beatty Communities, one of the military’s largest landlords.

This year, Reuters quoted five former Balfour Beatty employees who said they filed false maintenance records at Air Force bases to help the company collect millions in bonus payments. Balfour Beatty, a unit of British infrastructure giant Balfour Beatty PLC <BALF.L>, has said that it is committed to improving its maintenance, and that it has tapped outside counsel and auditors to investigate.

Air Force Secretary Barrett said the Air Force has lost confidence in the company, but stopped short of committing to removing it from the program.

A company spokesman said Balfour Beatty plans this month to finish a “performance improvement plan” requested by the Air Force.

Democratic senators Richard Blumenthal, from Connecticut, and Mazie Hirono, from Hawaii, urged the military to refer instances of fraud for criminal prosecution.

“We probably need to make an example out of a couple of them,” said Senator Thom Tillis, a North Carolina Republican.

(Reporting by M.B. Pell in New York. Additional reporting by Joshua Schneyer. Editing by Ronnie Greene)

SpaceX launches first U.S. national security space mission

By Joseph Ax

(Reuters) – A SpaceX rocket carrying a U.S. military navigation satellite blasted off from Florida’s Cape Canaveral on Sunday, marking the space transportation company’s first national security space mission for the United States.

The Falcon 9 rocket carrying a roughly $500 million GPS satellite built by Lockheed Martin Corp lifted off from Cape Canaveral at 8:51 a.m. local time (1351 GMT). Four previous scheduled launches in the last week, including one on Saturday, were canceled due to weather and technical issues.

The successful launch is a significant victory for billionaire Elon Musk’s privately held rocket company, which has spent years trying to break into the lucrative market for military space launches dominated by Lockheed and Boeing Co.

SpaceX sued the U.S. Air Force in 2014 over the military’s award of a multibillion-dollar, non-compete contract for 36 rocket launches to United Launch Alliance, a partnership of Boeing and Lockheed. It dropped the lawsuit in 2015 after the Air Force agreed to open up competition.

The next year, SpaceX won an $83 million Air Force contract to launch the GPS III satellite, which will have a lifespan of 15 years.

The satellite is the first to launch out of 32 in production by Lockheed under contracts worth a combined $12.6 billion for the Air Force GPS III program, according to Lockheed spokesman Chip Eschenfelder.

The launch was originally scheduled for 2014 but has been hobbled by production delays, the Air Force said.

The next GPS III satellite is due to launch in mid-2019, Eschenfelder said, while subsequent satellites undergo testing in the company’s Colorado processing facility.

(Additional reporting by Eric M. Johnson and Gina Cherelus; Editing by Hugh Lawson and Daniel Wallis)

Trump orders creation of U.S. force to dominate space

FILE PHOTO: The Apollo 11 Lunar Module ascent stage, with astronauts Neil A. Armstrong and Edwin E. Aldrin Jr. aboard, is photographed from the Command and Service Modules in lunar orbit in this July 1969 file photo. Courtesy NASA/Handout via REUTERS

By Makini Brice and Steve Holland

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. President Donald Trump on Monday said he was ordering the establishment of a sixth branch of the military to clear the way for American dominance of space.

“It is not enough to merely have an American presence in space. We must have American dominance in space,” Trump said before a meeting of his National Space Council.

“We are going to have the Air Force and we’re going to have the ‘Space Force.’ Separate but equal. It is going to be something. So important,” he said later.

The United States, however, is a member of the Outer Space Treaty, which bars the stationing of weapons of mass destruction in space and only allows for the use of the moon and other celestial bodies for peaceful purposes.

Trump also signed a directive on the management of traffic and debris in space.

The announcements were his administration’s latest moves to scale up U.S. space exploration. The United States wants to send robotic explorers to the moon as soon as next year as a preparatory step towards sending astronauts back there for the first time since 1972, a NASA official said on Monday.

The National Aeronautics and Space Administration is planning a series of lunar missions beginning next year aimed at developing the capacity for a return to the moon, said Cheryl Warner, a spokeswoman for NASA’s Human Exploration Directorate.

NASA will work with private companies, which have not yet been chosen, on the missions, Warner said in a phone interview.

In December, Trump signed a directive that he said would enable astronauts to return to the moon and eventually lead a mission to Mars. He ordered the government last month to review regulations on commercial space flights.

Americans first landed on the moon in 1969, reaching a goal set by former President John F. Kennedy in 1961 and capping a decade-long space race between Washington and Moscow.

Since then, U.S. efforts to explore beyond the Earth’s orbit have largely focused on remote spacecraft that do not have human crew members, though American presidents have repeatedly raised the idea of sending human explorers back to the moon or further.

President George W. Bush in 2004 said humans would return to the moon by 2020. His successor, President Barack Obama, said in 2016 the United States would send humans to Mars by the 2030s.

(Reporting by Makini Brice and Steve Holland; Editing by Scott Malone and Paul Simao)

Israel hints it could hit Iran’s ‘air force’ in Syria

FILE PHOTO - An Israeli soldier walks near a military post close to the Druze village of Majdal Shams in the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights, Israel February 10, 2018. REUTERS/Ammar Awad/File Photo

By Dan Williams

JERUSALEM (Reuters) – Israel released details on Tuesday about what it described as an Iranian “air force” deployed in neighboring Syria, including civilian planes suspected of transferring arms, a signal that these could be attacked should tensions with Tehran escalate.

Iran, along with Damascus and its big-power backer Russia, blamed Israel for an April 9 air strike on a Syrian air base, T-4, that killed seven Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) members. Iranian officials have promised unspecified reprisals.

Israeli media ran satellite images and a map of five Syrian air bases allegedly used to field Iranian drones or cargo aircraft, as well as the names of three senior IRGC officers suspected of commanding related projects, such as missile units.

The information came from the Israeli military, according to a wide range of television and radio stations and news websites. Israel’s military spokesman declined to comment.

However, an Israeli security official seemed to acknowledge the leak was sanctioned, telling Reuters that it provided details about “the IRGC air force (which) the Israeli defense establishment sees as the entity that will try to attack Israel, based on Iranian threats to respond to the strike on T-4.”

The official, who requested anonymity, would not elaborate.

Israel’s Army Radio reported that, given tensions with Iran over Syria, the Israeli air force canceled plans to send F-15 fighter jets to take part in the U.S.-hosted exercise Red Flag, which begins on April 30.

“EXPOSED”

Roni Daniel, military editor for Israeli TV station Mako, said the disclosure was a signal to Iran that its deployments in Syria “are totally exposed to us, and if you take action against us to avenge (the T-4 strike) these targets will be very severely harmed”.

According to Daniel, Israel was bracing for a possible Iranian missile salvo or armed drone assault from Syria.

There was no immediate response from the IRGC or Syria.

The Iranian death toll in T-4 was unusually high. “It was the first time we attacked live Iranian targets – both facilities and people,” the New York Times on Sunday quoted an Israeli military source as saying.

Iran, Israel’s arch-foe, has cast its military personnel in Syria as reinforcements helping President Bashar al-Assad battle a seven-year-old insurgency. The Iranians have also described their cargo flights to Syria as carrying humanitarian aid only.

An Israeli-Iranian showdown over Syria has loomed since Feb. 10, when Israel said an armed drone launched from T-4 penetrated its air space. Israel blew up the drone and carried out a raid on Syrian air defenses in which one of its F-16 jets was downed.

“Israel is headed for escalation,” Yaacov Amidror, former national security adviser to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, told Tel Aviv radio station 103 FM. “There could be a very big belligerent incident with Iran and Hezbollah.”

While not claiming responsibility for the T-4 strike, Israel has restated a policy of preventing Iran setting up a Syrian garrison. Scores of previous such raids went unanswered but Israel worries that changing conditions may now embolden Iran.

Russia, which long turned a blind eye to Israeli actions in Syria while serving as a brake on retaliation by Iran or its Lebanese Hezbollah guerrilla allies, is now at loggerheads with Western powers over accusations, denied by Syria’s government, that it has used chemical weaponry in fighting.

(Additional reporting by Bozorgmehr Sharafedin in London; writing by Dan Williams; editing by Mark Heinrich)

Israeli air force gives Tel Aviv a scare as Syria tensions flare

FILE PHOTO: An Israeli Air Force F-15 fighter jet releases flares during an aerial demonstration at a graduation ceremony for Israeli air force pilots at the Hatzerim air base in southern Israel December 29, 2016. REUTERS/Amir Cohen/File Photo

TEL AVIV (Reuters) – Israeli police emergency lines lit up on Thursday after warplanes roared over the Tel Aviv coast, dropping anti-missile flares and performing aerobatics at a time of tension along the border with Syria.

It was just a rehearsal – practice flights are held every year – for the Israeli Air Force’s annual Independence Day national flypast on April 19, but no prior announcement was made.

“Many calls were received from worried citizens about noise from a squadron of planes in the Tel Aviv area,” police said in statement. “We would like to make clear they were training for the Independence Day aerial display. There’s no emergency.”

Under clear skies over Tel Aviv’s Mediterranean beach, two F-15 jets maneuvered through a series of sharp turns, climbs and dives in what appeared to be a mock dogfight as the sound of their engines crackled through the streets.

On Wednesday, U.S. President Donald Trump warned Russia of imminent military action in Syria over a suspected poison gas attack, and Israel held top-level security consultations over concerns it might be a target for Syrian or Iranian retaliation.

Trump said on Thursday that a possible strike against Syria “could be very soon or not so soon at all”.

Despite the tensions, the commander of Israel’s armed forces, Lieutenant-General Gadi Eizenkot, flew to Poland on Thursday morning to take part in Holocaust Remembrance Day events.

The Israeli military tweeted a video of him boarding a plane but did not immediately say when he was scheduled to return. A source in the delegation told Reuters, however, that Eizenkot would be back by nightfall.

In Israel, sirens blared for two minutes during the morning to mark the remembrance day, bringing traffic to a standstill as motorists and pedestrians stood to honor the six million Jews killed in the Nazi Holocaust.

Civil defence authorities issued the customary notice beforehand that in the event of a real emergency, the sirens would sound in a rising and falling, rather than a constant, tone.

(Writing by Jeffrey Heller; editing by David Stamp)

U.S. bombers challenge China in South China Sea flyover

FILE PHOTO - A B-1B Lancer from the U.S. Air Force 28th Air Expeditionary Wing heads out on a combat mission in support of strikes on Afghanistan in this file picture released December 7, 2001. Cedric H.Rudisill/USAF/Handout via REUTERS

TOKYO/BEIJING (Reuters) – Two U.S bombers have flown over the disputed South China Sea, the U.S. Air Force said on Friday, asserting the right to treat the region as international territory despite China’s claim to virtually all of the waterway.

The flight by the B-1B Lancer bombers from Guam on Thursday came as U.S. President Donald Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping prepare for a meeting on the sidelines of a G20 summit in Germany.

The two leaders were expected to discuss what China can do to rein in North Korea’s missile and nuclear weapon programs.

North Korea fired an intercontinental ballistic missile on Tuesday that some experts believe has the range to reach Alaska and Hawaii and perhaps the U.S. Pacific Northwest.

While Trump has been seeking China’s help to press North Korea, the U.S. military has, nevertheless, been asserting its “freedom of navigation” rights in the South China Sea, at the risk of angering China.

Asked about the flight by the two U.S. bombers, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said there was no problem with freedom of navigation or overflight for the East and South China Seas.

“But China resolutely opposes individual countries using the banner of freedom of navigation and overflight to flaunt military force and harm China’s sovereignty and security,” he said.

China’s Defence Ministry, in a short statement sent to Reuters, said China always maintained its vigilance and “effectively monitors relevant countries’ military activities next to China”.

“The Chinese military will resolutely safeguard national sovereignty and security as well as regional peace and stability,” it added, without elaborating.

The United States has criticized China’s build-up of military facilities on South China Sea reefs and tiny islands it has constructed, concerned that they could be used to extend its strategic reach.

Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines, Vietnam and Taiwan also have claims in the sea, through which about $5 trillion in ship-borne trade passes each year.

The two Lancers that made the flight had earlier trained with Japanese jet fighters in the neighboring East China Sea, the first time the two forces had conducted joint night-time drills.

Two U.S. Lancers flew from Guam over the South China Sea last month, while a U.S. warship carried out a maneuvering drill within 12 nautical miles of one of China’s artificial islands in the waterway in late May.

(Reporting by Tim Kelly in TOKYO; Additional reporting by Ben Blanchard in BEIJING; Editing by Paul Tait, Robert Birsel)