FOLLOW THE WEEK ON FACEBOOK
February 17, 2016

Military officials in the U.S. and Taiwan have confirmed that China has deployed advanced surface-to-air missile (SAM) systems on Woody Island, one of the Paracel Island chain controlled by China for more than 40 years but also claimed by Vietnam and Taiwan. The placement of the anti-aircraft batteries — believed to be China's HQ-9, with a range of 125 miles — was discovered by civilian satellite company ImageSat International as President Obama was wrapping up an Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) summit in Rancho Mirage, California, where one topic was de-escalating tensions in the South China Sea.

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi both defended Beijing's "right to self-protection" through "the limited and necessary self-defense facilities that China has built on islands and reefs we have people stationed on," and scolded "Western media" for focusing on armaments and not the lighthouses China has built to protect commercial ships. China's defense ministry told Reuters that the reports of new missiles was pure "hype" and that defense installations have been in place on "relevant islands and reefs" for years.

Analysts were split on whether the missile deployment was timed to disrupt or embarrass the ASEAN summit. "I think China has planned these deployments for some time," Bonnie Glaser at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington told The Wall Street Journal. “China has recently built hardened shelters for fighter aircraft on Woody Island. It isn't surprising that they are deploying SAMs to defend them." The analysts at Fox News, which first reported the deployment, disagree. You can watch the report below. Peter Weber

8:09 p.m. ET
Bill Pugliano/Getty Images

The president of the United Auto Workers endorsed Hillary Clinton on Wednesday, saying she "understands our issues on trade, understands the complexities of multinational economies, and supports American workers, their families, and communities."

In a statement, Dennis Williams cited Clinton's backing of paid family leave, equal pay for women, and expanding overtime rules as the reasons for his endorsement. He made his decision after surveying members, the Detroit Free Press reports, one week after he said he would not be throwing his support behind Trump. In an internal survey, 28 percent of UAW members said they plan to vote for the presumptive Republican nominee; last summer, Williams called Trump an "enemy of the middle class."

In his statement, Williams called Bernie Sanders a "great friend of the UAW," but added, "Hillary Clinton has shown under pressure her ability to lead and get elected in November." There are 412,000 active UAW members, and more than one million retirees. Catherine Garcia

7:10 p.m. ET
Mark Wilson/Getty Images

If Donald Trump wants the endorsement of New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez (R), he has a funny way of showing it.

During a rally in Albuquerque Tuesday, Trump called out Martinez, the country's first female Hispanic governor and chairwoman of the Republican Governors Association. He told the crowd, "You've got to get your governor to do a better job, she's not doing her job," later adding, "Syrian refugees are being relocated in large numbers to New Mexico. If I was governor, that wouldn't be happening." He also slyly suggested that "maybe" he should run for governor to "get this place going."

Martinez's press secretary, Mike Lonergan, told ABC News the governor "doesn't care about what Donald Trump says about her. She cares about what he says he will do to help New Mexicans. She's disappointed that she didn't hear anything about that last night." Martinez, who did not attend Trump's Albuquerque rally, has not endorsed Trump, and Lonergan said "the governor will not be bullied into supporting a candidate until she is convinced that candidate will fight for New Mexicans." Catherine Garcia

6:35 p.m. ET
Mark Ralston/AFP/Getty Images

Police in Anaheim, California, arrested several protesters outside of a Donald Trump rally Wednesday afternoon after they pelted officers with objects.

After Trump left, several demonstrators lingered in the area, setting at least one trash can on fire. Supporters of Trump faced off against the protesters, and an Anaheim Police spokesman said a group of five backers were escorted away "in the interest of public safety" after they used racially charged language against the demonstrators. Another group of supporters chanted anti-gay slurs, the Los Angeles Times reports, and two men held up a sign calling for the end of Islam and abortion. Dozens of police officers, including some on horseback, were on the scene, as well as sheriff's deputies in riot gear. Catherine Garcia

4:02 p.m. ET
Alex Wong/Getty Images

Akash Vukoti. Write it down, commit it to memory. You're likely going to be hearing a lot about this 6-year-old in the next 24 hours.

The youngest competitor by grade to ever to participate in the Scripps Spelling Bee, Vukoti was greeted by enthusiastic applause when he managed to spell the word "inviscate" Wednesday morning, and moved on to the next round.

Let's face it: "Inviscate" isn't even recognized by this computer's spell check (it means "to encase in a sticky substance," if you were wondering). This first-grader from San Angelo, Texas, may be pint-sized, but he's all brain. Just check out his favorite word — it's 45 letters long:

Now try saying that three times fast. Jeva Lange

3:07 p.m. ET
Mike Windle/Getty Images For EPIX

The makers of a new Katie Couric documentary on gun violence apparently deceptively edited an interview with gun rights activists to make them appear stumped by her question, The Washington Free Beacon reports. About 20 minutes into the documentary Under the Gun, Couric asks members of the Virginia Citizens Defense League, "If there are no background checks for gun purchasers, how do you prevent felons or terrorists from purchasing a gun?"

The response? Dead silence, for about nine awkward seconds:

That's not how it really went down, though, according to activists who contacted the Free Beacon. In audio provided to the website, Couric's question is actually quickly met with answers, and the back and forth lasts about four minutes:

The gun rights activists have called the segment "unbelievable and extremely unprofessional." "[Couric] intentionally removed their answers and spliced in nine seconds of some prior video of our members sitting quietly and not responding. Viewers are left with the misunderstanding that the members had no answer to her question," Virginia Citizens Defense League president Philip Van Cleave said.

When asked about the edits, Nora Ryan, the chief of staff for EPIX, which is airing the documentary, said that the channel "stands behind Katie Couric, director Stephanie Soechtig, and their creative and editorial judgement." Jeva Lange

2:57 p.m. ET
John Moore/Getty Images

What Donald Trump's campaign likely thought was a brilliant plan to take down Hillary Clinton was quickly foiled Wednesday afternoon when a Trump spokeswoman did some errant emailing.

While Trump spokeswoman Hope Hicks meant to respond to an email from Trump adviser Michael Caputo requesting that a researcher at the Republican National Committee "work up information on HRC/Whitewater as soon as possible" for "immediate use and for the afternoon talking points process," she ended up replying to Marc Caputo — a reporter at Politico. With the mistaken click of a button, the entire email thread — and, subsequently, the scoop on Trump's next plan of attack — was dropped into Politico's inbox.

RNC chief strategist Sean Spicer has defended the request for information on Whitewater — the Clinton scandal stemming from a failed real estate venture in the 1970s — as nothing more than "just another example of Republican campaigns up and down the ballot looking to us for the best information." Neither Spicer nor Hicks provided any further clues as to when or how Trump will be using that requested information, though it goes without saying his coming attack will involve the word "crooked." Becca Stanek

2:31 p.m. ET
iStock

Eleven states are represented in a federal lawsuit filed Wednesday against the Obama administration, challenging federal guidelines that require schools to allow transgender students to use bathrooms that match their gender identity.

The lawsuit, filed in a federal court in Wichita Falls, Texas, is in response to a directive released earlier in May by the Obama administration, which critics say oversteps the government's bounds. The lawsuit accused the administration of trying to turn schools and workplaces into "laboratories for a massive social experiment."

On Tuesday, the Justice Department and North Carolina filed competing lawsuits concerning a law in the state that bans transgender people from using bathrooms that don't correspond to the gender identified on their birth certificate. Jeva Lange

See More Speed Reads