Worker dies after being sucked into water pipe: one of at least 3 fatal workplace accidents today

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A man working on a pipeline project in Taichung City lost his life after he was sucked through a hole he had just made in a water pipe Monday, November 30.

The 50-year-old man, named Zeng, was working on a Taiwan Water Corporation pipeline replacement project in Tanzi District when the accident occurred at around 11:30 am.

The incident was recorded on video from someone standing above the trench. The video footage showed Zeng atop the steel pipe using a lump hammer to knock out a 60 x 40 centimeter square piece that had been cut by a coworker. However, when the steel plate finally gave way, Zeng lost his balance, falling forward. Zeng momentarily caught himself, but the suction force caused by the vacuum in the pipe sucked him feet-first into the pipe.

The moment before Zeng is sucked into a water pipe.

Zeng’s coworkers pulled Zeng out of the pipe, but he had lost vital signs by the time paramedics arrived, and was later declared dead at the hospital.

The Ministry of Labor and other relevant agencies are currently investigating the incident. The incident is one of three fatal industrial accidents reported in Taiwan’s news media today. In Yilan, a welder died while working in an enclosed space due to a buildup of argon gas, and in Kaohsiung, a backhoe driver was buried alive after a chimney collapsed on a demolition site.

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Nord Stream 2 turning into Biden’s No. 1 problem

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Nord Stream 2 turning into Biden’s No. 1 problem Presented by Lockheed Martin

With help from Daniel Lippman.

Sections of pipe for the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline lie stacked at Mukran Port in Sassnitz, Germany, in August. | Sean Gallup/Getty Images

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The continued political fallout from President JOE BIDEN’s Nord Stream 2 decision is stunning, even to administration officials.

After the announcement in May to suspend sanctions on the nearly complete Russia-to-Germany gas pipeline, few expected to see a paragraph like this one from our own ANDREW DESIDERIO and CONNOR O’BRIEN: “The move to let the pipeline go forward, which drew bipartisan criticism at the time, not only kicked off the Republican-led blockade of President Joe Biden’s foreign-policy nominees — now it’s imperiling passage of the annual defense policy bill, typically a bipartisan affair that’s become law each year for six decades.”

This one decision, arguably more than the chaotic military withdrawal from Afghanistan, has imperiled Biden’s agenda. The fight over the National Defense Authorization Act has delayed passage of China-targeted competition bills and complicated efforts to avoid a government shutdown.

Administration officials expected fierce congressional pushback, even from Democrats, but not to the point that it would remain an issue for months. And they are repulsed by the actions of Senate Republicans — namely, Texas’ TED CRUZ, who cites his opposition to the relaxation of Nord Stream 2 sanctions for why he’s blocking Biden’s national security nominees.

Some argue Cruz and others have less-than-pure policy motivations, though. “It’s like their new caravan, or border wall, or ‘lock her up’ rallying cry,” a congressional Democratic aide told NatSec Daily. “These guys didn’t give a s— about this issue until it got weaponized into political theater to claim Biden is weak on Russia.”

“We’re not surprised that some Republicans are making bad faith political arguments and playing politics with our national security by blocking critical legislation and holding up qualified national security nominees,” a White House spokesperson told NatSec Daily.

A senior administration official was a bit more diplomatic. “We’re seeing some members of Congress press for sanctions that don’t actually deter Russia but do threaten transatlantic unity in order to score political points at home — all while holding up critical national security funding on a range of unrelated issues. It makes no sense,” the official told us.

That, of course, isn’t how Republicans see it. “It’s very interesting that Democrats went from being the tough-on-Russia party under [former President DONALD] TRUMP to the ignore-Russian aggression-party under Biden,” a congressional Republican staffer said. “It’s not a good look on Biden.”

The monthslong spat may finally be coming to an end. Cruz has committed to lift a handful of his holds as long as a NDAA amendment to forcibly place sanctions on the pipeline’s company gets a vote. If it passes, he’ll release a lot more more, your host and Desiderio reported today.

The Inbox

FIRST IN NATSEC DAILY –– NGOS WANT DOD TO REDUCE CIVILIAN HARM: A coalition of 21 human rights organizations sent a letter to Secretary of Defense LLOYD AUSTIN Wednesday pushing the Pentagon to reduce civilian casualties in conflict.

An August drone strike that killed 10 innocents in Afghanistan, a 2019 Syria blast that killed dozens and the Defense Department’s actions over 20 years of war “illustrate an unacceptable failure to prioritize civilian protection in the use of lethal force; meaningfully investigate, acknowledge, and provide amends when harm occurs; and provide accountability in the event of wrongdoing,” the groups wrote. The American Civil Liberties Union, Human Rights First, InterAction and others ask DoD to “commit to finally implementing structural changes to prioritize civilian protection and accountability for civilian harm.”

To do that, the organizations recommend the Pentagon publicly release the investigations into the two errant deadly strikes, openly publish reports and data about civilian harm and revise DoD policy to further protect civilians during military operations.

This letter follows one sent yesterday to Congress’ Armed Services committee leadership urging them to oversee how DoD handles the civilian casualty issue.

BLINKEN: ‘SEVERE CONSEQUENCES’ IF RUSSIA INVADES UKRAINE: Secretary of State ANTONY BLINKEN warned Russia that it would suffer “severe consequences” should it send its nearly 100,000 troops amassed on Ukraine’s border into that country.

“We don’t know whether President [VLADIMIR] PUTIN has made the decision to invade” Ukraine, he said during a meeting of NATO foreign ministers in Latvia. “We do know that he’s putting in place the capacity to do so on short order, should he so decide. So despite uncertainty about intention, and timing, we must prepare for all contingencies while working to see to it that Russia reverses course.”

“We’ve made it clear to the Kremlin that we will respond resolutely, including with a range of high impact economic measures that we’ve refrained from using in the past,” Blinken continued, adding that the NATO alliance is also “prepared to impose severe costs for further Russian aggression in Ukraine” and “prepared to reinforce its defenses on the eastern flank.”

The statement comes right after Putin earlier said the “threat” to Russia’s western border was growing, and a day before Blinken meets with Russian Foreign Minister SERGEY LAVROV in Stockholm.

Russia expels U.S. diplomats: The Kremlin made sure to get in its own jab before that handshake, as Russia has ordered U.S. Embassy staff who’ve served over three years to leave Moscow by Jan. 31.

“Foreign ministry officials on Wednesday indicated that the decision to remove the U.S. Embassy staff was in retaliation for Washington’s expulsion of more than 50 Russian diplomats by June 30, in line with previously imposed term limits,” the Wall Street Journal’s ANN SIMMONS and WILLIAM MAULDIN report.

“I would like to emphasize that the choice is not ours,” Russian Foreign Ministry spokesperson MARIA ZAKHAROVA told reporters Wednesday. “Our American partners have forced us to play that way. We have long and persistently tried to reason with them and still direct them to some kind of constructive solution to the issue, but they made their choice.”

AMERICANS MOST CONCERNED ABOUT CYBERATTACKS AND POLITICAL VIOLENCE: The Ronald Reagan Institute released its annual national defense survey, and this edition features a surprising result — Americans aren’t most concerned about war with China or climate change, but cyberattacks and political divisions leading to potential violence.

Asked “How concerned are you about the threat of each of the following in the next five years?” 88 percent of the more than 2,500 respondents said they were “extremely concerned” or “somewhat concerned” about cyberattacks, followed closely with 85 percent worried about violence in America.

Fears about a war between the U.S. and China were at 70 percent, with fewer concerned about climate change at 66 percent.

It’s just one survey, but it indicates that the administration’s main national security priorities aren’t necessarily top of mind for all Americans.

#WERUNNATSEC 5K: Reminder that NatSec Daily’s first-ever 5k will happen on Saturday, Dec. 4. When most convenient for you, go out and run (at least) 3.11 miles, then share your photos using #WeRunNatSec on Twitter. We’ll “see” you out there!

IT’S WEDNESDAY: Thanks for tuning in to NatSec Daily. This space is reserved for the top U.S. and foreign officials, the lawmakers, the lobbyists, the experts and the people like you who care about how the natsec sausage gets made. Aim your tips and comments at [email protected] and [email protected], and follow us on Twitter at @alexbward and @QuintForgey.

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ABE: JAPAN WOULD DEFEND TAIWAN: Former Japanese Prime Minister SHINZO ABE told a crowd assembled by a Taiwanese think tank that neither Washington nor Tokyo could stand by were Beijing to launch an invasion of the neighboring democratic island.

“A Taiwan emergency is a Japanese emergency, and therefore an emergency for the Japan-U.S. alliance. People in Beijing, President XI JINPING in particular, should never have a misunderstanding in recognizing this,” Abe said. “Japan, Taiwan and all the people who believe in democracy need to keep urging President Xi Jinping and other Chinese Communist Party leaders repeatedly not to step onto a wrong path.”

Abe is no longer leading his country, but he still leads a major faction of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party. As such, he wields immense influence and his views reflect a large constituency current Prime Minister FUMIO KISHIDA must account for.

When Abe was in power, he pushed Japan to move beyond its pacifist history and become a stronger military force in the Indo-Pacific, namely because of threats emanating from China and North Korea.


EUROPOL ARRESTS MORE THAN 1,800 MONEY MULES: Europol announced Wednesday that it arrested 1,803 people in a 27-country operation from Sept. 15 to Nov. 30.

“The operation resulted in 1 803 arrests and the identification of over 18 000 money mules. It also revealed that money mules were being used to launder money for a wide array of online scams such as sim-swapping, man in the middle attacks, e-commerce fraud and phishing,” the agency said in a news release.

“This was the seventh iteration of the European Money Mule Action, or ‘EMMA’, which was established in 2016 on the initiative of Europol, Eurojust and the European Banking Federation. It is the largest international operation of its kind, built around the idea that public-private information sharing is key to fighting complex modern crimes. Around 400 banks and financial institutions supported the action, reporting 7000 fraudulent transactions and preventing a total loss estimated at nearly €70 million.”

The 27 participating countries or government entities were: Australia, Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Colombia, Czech Republic, Estonia, Finland, Greece, Germany, Hong Kong, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Moldova, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Singapore, Slovakia, Slovenia, Sweden, Switzerland, Spain, the United Kingdom and the United States.

The Complex

SECAF: U.S. IN HYPERSONIC “ARMS RACE” WITH CHINA: Air Force Secretary FRANK KENDALL told Reuters’ MIKE STONE that the U.S. is locked in a hypersonic arms race with China mainly over quality, not quantity.

“There is an arms race, not necessarily for increased numbers, but for increased quality,” Kendall said. “It’s an arms race that has been going on for quite some time. The Chinese have been at it very aggressively.”

Top Pentagon officials are repeatedly sounding the alarm about hypersonics, especially after China tested one this summer that shot another projectile in flight — a major technological development.

Last month in Halifax, Gen. DAVID THOMPSON, the Space Force’s vice chief of operations, put it bluntly, “We’re not as advanced as the Chinese or the Russians in terms of hypersonic programs.”

On the Hill

BIPARTISAN BILL TO SANCTIONS IRANIAN DRONES: Four lawmakers — including the top two leaders of the House Foreign Affairs Committee — introduced legislation to sanction Iran’s drone program and suppliers.

The Stop Iranian Drones Act, or SIDA, will “clarify that U.S. sanctions on Iran’s conventional weapons program under CAATSA include the supply, sale or transfer to or from Iran of unmanned combat aerial vehicles,” per a news release. “The legislation also states that it is US policy to prevent Iran and Iranian-aligned groups from acquiring unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) that can be used in attacks against the United States or our partners.”

The measure was proposed by HFAC Chair GREGORY MEEKS (D-N.Y.) and HFAC ranking member MICHAEL MCCAUL (R-Texas) alongside Reps. TED DEUTCH (D-Fla.) and JOE WILSON (R-S.C.).

“Deadly drones in the hands of the world’s greatest exporter of terrorism, Iran, jeopardizes the security of the United States and regional peace. Recent Iranian drone attacks on U.S. troops, commercial shipping vessels, and against regional partners, along with the export of drone technology to conflict zones, pose a dire threat,” Meeks said in a statement. The bill “sends a strong signal to the international community that support for the Iranian drone program will not be tolerated by the government of the United States.”

ANTI-CHINA BILLS PUSHED TO NEXT YEAR? Our own GAVIN BADE reports (for Pros!) that the major anti-China bills stuck in Congress might not pass until 2022.

“House Speaker NANCY PELOSI and Senate Majority Leader CHUCK SCHUMER struck a deal before the Thanksgiving recess to hold a conference committee to hammer out differences over their proposals for boosting America’s economic competitiveness against China,” he wrote. “But neither chamber’s leadership has announced a schedule for that conference or when they will select participants. That’s got some lawmakers concerned that a final bill will not be sent to President Joe Biden’s desk this year as they scramble to address other priorities.”

“I don’t think that’s a must-pass by Christmas,” Sen. TIM KAINE (D-Va.), a member of the Armed Services and Foreign Relations committees, told Bade of the China legislation.

Other measures are closer to the front of the line — namely the National Defense Authorization Act, lifting the debt ceiling and avoiding a government shutdown.

Some, though, aren’t happy with the delay. “Every day we fail to act is a day when the Chinese Communist Party pulls further ahead of us in advancing frontier technologies,” Sen. TODD YOUNG (R-Ind.) said.


FIRST IN NATSEC DAILY: END AMERICA’S “PHANTOM EMPIRE”: Defense Priorities’ RICHARD HANANIA will today publish a report arguing that America’s system of global bases doesn’t give it the leverage policymakers think.

“[B]ecause American leaders are committed, in most cases, to maintaining troops abroad as a good in and of itself, the U.S. squanders most of its leverage to influence hosts,” he wrote in Phantom Empire: The Illusionary Nature of U.S. Military Power. “Threats to withdraw troops are not credible, making them irrelevant for most U.S. geopolitical goals.”

Hanania uses South Korea as an example. “American forces are there to defend against a potential attack from North Korea, a nuclear-armed nation with an army larger than that of its neighbor. Yet on issue after issue, the South Korean government has butted heads with Washington,” he writes, citing Seoul’s welcome of Chinese telecommunications and refusal to denounce Beijing’s human rights abuses. “Despite the United States permanently garrisoning troops on South Korean territory, Washington has shown little ability to rely on its ally to help it achieve foreign policy goals.”

The report comes on the heels of the Pentagon’s release of its global posture review. Its main conclusion, outside of vowing to bolster bases in Guam and Australia, is that U.S. troops should remain where they are.


— ANDREA J. PRASOW has been named executive director of the Freedom Initiative. She has previously served as deputy Washington director and acting Washington director at Human Rights Watch.

What to Read

— KIM GHATTAS, The Atlantic: “Iran Feels Cornered by the Biden Administration”

— SafetyDetectives: “Global Research Study: Women’s Safety Around the World”

— CHRIS STOKEL-WALKER, Wired: “Researchers Have a Method to Spot Reddit’s State-Backed Trolls”

Tomorrow Today

— SecState Blinken’s first full day in Stockholm: He will attend the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe Ministerial Council, where the ministers “will discuss concerns about the Europe-Eurasia region’s security environment and the need to strengthen it through upholding OSCE principles,” per the State Department. Blinken also will meet with Swedish officials and his Russian counterpart, Lavrov.

— The Australian Strategic Policy Institute, 2 a.m.: “7th ASPI-KAS Australia-Europe Counterterrorism Dialogue: Strategies for a Resilient Democracy — with GÜNTER KRINGS, DEBRA SMITH, KATJA THEODORAKIS and LEVI WEST”

— The American Conservative, 8 a.m.: “American Security In A Multipolar World: Cooperation Or Competition? — with EMILE DOAK, JOHN GAY, DOUG MACGREGOR, WILL RUGER, ADAM WEINSTEIN and more”

— The Brookings Institution, 8:30 a.m.: “North Korea in a New Era of U.S.-South Korea Partnership — with JIHWAN HWANG, JINA KIM, SOO KIM, SUE MI TERRY, ANDREW YEO and SOHN YUL”

— The Intelligence and National Security Alliance, 9 a.m.: “Coffee & Conversation with NCTC Director CHRISTINE ABIZAID — with JOHN DOYON”

— The United States Institute of Peace, 9 a.m.: “Learning from U.S.-Vietnam Cooperation on Wartime Remains Recovery — with TRẦN QUỐC DŨNG, THẢO GRIFFITHS, KELLY K. MCKEAGUE, GEORGE MOOSE, HOÀNG THANH NGA, HẢI NGUYỄN, TIM RIESER and ANDREW WELLS-DANG”

— House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, 10 a.m.: “Full Committee Hearing: The Evolving Cybersecurity Landscape: Federal Perspectives on Securing the Nation’s Infrastructure — with KEVIN DORSEY, LARRY GROSSMAN, NICK MARINOS, JOHN W. MAUGER, VICTORIA NEWHOUSE and CORDELL SCHACHTER”

— The Center for Strategic and International Studies, 3:30 p.m.: “The EU’s New Strategic Compass — with HERVÉ BLÉJEAN and RACHEL ELLEHUUS”

Have a natsec-centric event coming up? Transitioning to a new defense-adjacent or foreign policy-focused gig? Shoot us an email at [email protected] or [email protected] to be featured in the next edition of the newsletter.

A message from Lockheed Martin: LMXT: America’s next strategic tanker. Improved range and fuel offload, INDOPACOM base flexibility, automatic air-to-air refueling, and enhanced defensive systems come together in our next strategic tanker. Learn More

And thanks to our editor, Ben Pauker, who’s never surprised when his decisions receive fierce pushback.

Follow us on Twitter Alex Ward @alexbward