In China, hours after Beijing’s imposition of a new national security law, Hong Kong police have on Wednesday made their first arrests under a new “anti-protest” law, as crowds marked 23rd anniversary of the territory’s return to China signaling the end of British rule.
As the Chief Executive Carrie Lam joined her predecessors and other officials at the harbour’s edge for a flag-raising ceremony and a reception for specially-invited guests, as the territory’s annual pro-democracy march was banned for the first time, nine persons were held accused of violating the law, including a man with a pro-independence flag. More than 300 others were detained at a banned rally.
Praising the new law, Lam said in her speech, “the most important development” in the relationship between Beijing and Hong Kong since the 1997 handover, saying it is “necessary and timely” move to restore stability.
She defended the legislation, which came into force overnight after being rushed through China’s rubber-stamp parliament as “constitutional, lawful, sensible and reasonable”.
The national security law targets secession, subversion and terrorism with punishments up to life in prison.
Activists say it erodes freedoms but China has dismissed the criticism.
In a press briefing following the ceremony, Zhang Xiaoming, the Executive Deputy Director of the Hong Kong and Macao Affairs Office, said suspects arrested under the law would be tried in the mainland, adding that Hong Kong’s legal system could not be expected to implement the laws of the mainland.
Navalny Tells Magazine Putin Was Behind Poisoning
Russian opposition politician Alexei Navalny has told a German magazine that Russian President Vladimir Putin was behind his suspected poisoning.
In late August, 44-year-old Navalny who is a staunch critic of Putin was airlifted to Berlin for treatment after falling ill during a flight in Russia’s Siberia region. Having spent 16 days in a coma he was discharged from inpatient care.
According to an extract of an interview due to be published later on Thursday, Navalny told Der Spiegel, “I claim that Putin is behind the crime and I don’t have any other versions of what happened.”
The anti-corruption campaigner also confirmed to Der Spiegel that he plans to return to Russia after his recovery, saying “my job now is to remain the guy who is not afraid. And I’m not afraid!”
European countries including Germany and France have called for a Russian investigation into the suspected poisoning. The UK also called for a “full and transparent” investigation.
The Kremlin has consistently dismissed accusations that Russian president Putin was involved in the suspected poisoning of opposition critic Alexei Navalny after the German hospital treating Navalny said he appears to have been poisoned.
Disney Lays Off A Quarter Of U.S. Theme Park Workers
Disney’s California-based Theme Parks says the company will lay off twenty-eight thousand staff members as a result of prolonged closures of the parks.
In a memo sent to employees on Tuesday, the company’s head of parks, Josh D’Amaro said the company’s shares fell less than 2% after the closing bell on Tuesday.
The statement further revealed around 67% of the 28,000 laid off workers are part-time employees.
While Disney’s Theme Parks in Florida, Paris, Shanghai, Japan and Hong Kong have reopened with limited capacity, both California adventure and Disneyland have remained shuttered.
The company has promised to provide severance packages for the employees and also offer other services to help workers with job placement.
Coronavirus: Belgium Death Toll Passes 10,000
Belgium remains one of the hardest hit countries with covid-19. With a population of more than eleven million, the country has now recorded ten thousand fatalities.
Belgium had more than 250 deaths daily during the peak of the pandemic in April.
The Belgian government says testing capacity has been stepped up, which has led to a sharp rise in the number of positive cases recorded, particularly now that people have returned to work and school after the summer holidays.
Meanwhile, Romania, too, has witnessed a spike in coronavirus infections by a record twenty-one hundred in the twenty-four hours between Tuesday and Wednesday.
This brings to more than one hundred twenty-seven thousand, the total number of infections in the country. Forty-eight hundred twenty-five infected persons have died so far. The government has extended a state of alert until mid-October.
Since the government eased lockdown restrictions in May, protective masks have become mandatory in public transport and indoor public spaces.
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