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China’s new Hong Kong laws a ‘flagrant breach’ of agreement, foreign officials say

Evan Lewis

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China's new Hong Kong laws a 'flagrant breach' of agreement, foreign officials say

FILE PHOTO: Former Hong Kong governor Chris Patten in Hong Kong, China November 25, 2016. REUTERS/Bobby Yip/File Photo

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Nearly 200 political figures from around the world on Saturday decried Beijing’s proposed national security laws for Hong Kong, including 17 U.S. Congress members, as international tensions grow over the proposal to set up Chinese government intelligence bases in the territory.

In a joint statement organized by former Hong Kong Governor Christopher Patten and former British Foreign Secretary Malcolm Rifkind, 186 law and policy leaders said the proposed laws are a “comprehensive assault on the city’s autonomy, rule of law and fundamental freedoms” and a “flagrant breach” of the Sino-British Joint Declaration that returned Hong Kong to China in 1997.

“If the international community cannot trust Beijing to keep its word when it comes to Hong Kong, people will be reluctant to take its word on other matters,” they wrote.

The legislation comes as the relationship between Washington and Beijing frays, with U.S. President Donald Trump blaming China for the coronavirus pandemic.

U.S. officials have said the Chinese legislation would be bad for both Hong Kong’s and China’s economies and could jeopardize the territory’s special status in U.S. law. China, though, has dismissed other countries’ complaints as meddling.

Some of Trump’s fellow Republicans – Senator Marco Rubio, acting chair of the Intelligence Committee, and Senator Ted Cruz – signed the statement. Democratic signatories included Representative Eliot Engel, head of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, and Adam Schiff, chairman of the U.S. House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence.

Forty-four members of Britain’s House of Commons and eight members of its House of Lords also signed the statement, alongside figures from across Europe, Asia, Australia and North America.

Reporting by Lisa Lambert; editing by Jonathan Oatis

With a knack for storytelling, Evan started News Brig about a year ago. Covering substantial topics under the Sports,, he helps information seep in deeper with creative writing and content management skills.

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George Floyd’s death an American tragedy with global echoes

Tori Holland

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FILE - In this Tuesday, June 2, 2020 file photo protesters face police officers during a demonstration in Marseille, southern France. Thousands of people defied a police ban and converged on the main Paris courthouse for a demonstration to show solidarity with U.S. protesters and denounce the death of a black man in French police custody. (AP Photo/Daniel Cole, File)

LONDON (AP) — When black men died at the hands of U.S. police in recent years, the news made international headlines. The name of George Floyd has reached the world’s streets.

Since his death while being detained by Minneapolis police last week, Floyd’s face has been painted on walls from Nairobi, Kenya to Idlib, Syria. His name has been inked on the shirts of professional soccer players and chanted by crowds from London to Cape Town to Tel Aviv to Sydney.

The outpouring of outrage and support reflects the power and reach of the United States, a country whose best and worst facets fascinate the world. It also reflects that deep-seated racial inequalities are not just an American phenomenon.

“This happened in the United States, but it happens in France, it happens everywhere,” said Xavier Dintimille, who attended a thousands-strong Paris protest to show solidarity with U.S. demonstrators and anger over a death closer to home.

The Paris demonstrators declared “We are all George Floyd,” but also invoked the name of Adama Traore, a 24-year-old Frenchman of Malian origin who died in police custody in 2016. The circumstances are still under investigation by justice authorities.

The world is used to watching American stories on TV and movie screens, and intrigued by a country founded on principles of equality and liberty but scarred by a tortured racial history of slavery and segregation. Viewed from abroad, images of U.S. violence and racial divisions can sometimes seem like part of a uniquely American malaise.

Not this time. When people around the world watched Floyd struggling for breath as a white police officer knelt on his neck, many saw reflections of violence and injustice in their own cities and towns. They heard echoes of their own experiences or those of family members, neighbors or friends.

“The same thing is happening here. It’s no different,” said Isaak Kabenge, who joined more than 1,000 other people at a protest in Sweden’s capital, Stockholm. “I got stopped (by police) two weeks ago. It happens all the time.”

In London, thousands of people chanted “Say his name – George Floyd!” as they marched through the city. But they also invoked names from nearby, including Stephen Lawrence, an 18-year-old black Londoner stabbed to death in 1993 as he waited for a bus. A bungled police investigation triggered a public inquiry, which concluded that the London police force was “institutionally racist.”

London-born “Star Wars” actor John Boyega, who was 1-year-old when Stephen Lawrence died, linked Lawrence, Floyd and other black victims of violence in a passionate speech to the crowd.

“Black lives have always mattered,” Boyega said. “We have always been important. We have always meant something.”

More than 160 people in Britain have died while in police custody in the past decade, and figures show that black people are twice as likely as white people to die under such circumstances.

In the London suburb of Croydon, hundreds of protesters gathered this week —standing the required coronavirus social distance of 2 meters (6½ feet) apart —and took a knee in memory both of Floyd and of Olaseni Lewis. The local man died in 2010 while being restrained by police at a psychiatric hospital.

Lewis’ mother, Ajibola Lewis, has campaigned to tighten the rules on the use of restraint by police. She said she couldn’t bear to watch the widely circulated footage of Floyd’s death.

“Many other families, we have heard our loved ones say ‘I can’t breathe,’” she told the BBC. “People think it’s only happening in America. It’s not. It’s happening here.”

Floyd’s death is another shocking turn for a technology-fueled world unsettled by disease, coronavirus lockdowns and massive unemployment.

The speed of social media helped Floyd’s final moments in Minneapolis spread around the world, and amplified the shock, anguish and anger they evoked.

Floyd’s death also dropped a spark into cities already smoldering from the coronavirus pandemic. In many countries, lockdowns imposed to slow the spread of the virus confined young people indoors for weeks. Their pent-up energy has been released into the streets as diverse, youthful crowds protest Floyd’s treatment, often in defiance of bans on mass gatherings.

In many places, protesters have tried to practice social distancing, but the attempts often fell apart in the heat of the moment. Some demonstrators wore face masks to guard against the virus — a practical health measure made poignant by the addition of Floyd’s dying words, “I can’t breathe,” written across the front.

The new virus has sent economies around the world into nosedives, throwing millions out of work. It has also exposed social inequalities, both in the United States — where cities with large black populations have been among the hardest hit — and elsewhere.

In Britain, black and ethnic minority people are at greater risk of dying with COVID-19, and have also been levied a disproportionate number of the fines and arrests for breaking lockdown rules, according to official statistics.

In London, some demonstrators called out the name of Belly Mujinga, a railway ticket-seller who died of coronavirus in April, weeks after she was spat at by a man claiming to have COVID-19. Police said they found no evidence to support charges in her death.

Thousands more plan to take to the streets of cities around the world this weekend, mourning a man whose death they hope will bring permanent change, and looking to the United States as both an inspiration and a warning.

“Here I think it’s systematic, and we need to start doing something starting from small to make change,” said musician Jayda Makwana, who joined thousands of others at a protest in London’s Hyde Park. “I think the U.K. could learn so much from the U.S., because we don’t want it to get to the point that it is at in the U.S.”

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Angela Charlton in Paris, David Keyton in Stockholm and Associated Press reporters around the world contributed to this story.

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Follow more AP stories on the George Floyd protests and reaction at https://apnews.com/GeorgeFloyd

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Twitter pulls Trump campaign video on George Floyd’s death

Evan Lewis

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Twitter pulls Trump campaign video on George Floyd’s death

A video posted by Donald Trump’s 2020 election campaign — decrying civil unrest in the wake of the killing of George Floyd — was removed Thursday by Twitter, citing a copyright-infringement claim.

A June 3 tweet by the @TeamTrump account with the video now displays the message: “This media has been disabled in response to a report by the copyright owner.” Twitter confirmed it received a DMCA takedown request from the owner of one of the images included in the video but the company did not specify who that was.

The video, titled “Healing, Not Hatred,” remains available on YouTube.

The 3:45-minute video comprises a clip of a Trump speech in which he says Floyd’s death was a “grave tragedy” that “should never have happened.” The campaign video includes numerous images and video clips, showing memorials to Floyd and crowds of protesters, as well as rioters committing acts of vandalism. “The memory of George Floyd is being dishonored by rioters, looters and anarchists,” Trump says.

It’s not the first time Twitter has removed Trump videos over copyright complaints: The social network took down the president’s video that sampled Nickelback’s 2005 “Photograph” in October 2019 pursuant to a takedown request by Warner Music Group. And earlier last year, Twitter pulled down a Trump 2020 campaign video that used parts of the score for the Batman movie “The Dark Knight Rises.”

“This incident is yet another reminder that Twitter is making up the rules as they go along,” a Trump campaign spokesman told The Hill. Twitter “has repeatedly failed to explain why their rules seem to only apply to the Trump campaign but not to others. Censoring out the president’s important message of unity around the George Floyd protests is an unfortunate escalation of this double standard.”

Twitter increasingly has been in Trump’s crosshairs after the social network last week applied fact-check labels to his inaccurate tweets about mail-in voting — and then hid another Trump tweet suggesting Minneapolis protesters would be shot. Trump, upset over Twitter’s fact-checking action, issued an executive order aiming to remove Twitter’s legal protections for speech on its platform. That that prompted a lawsuit from a tech policy organization charging that Trump’s order violates the First Amendment.

Meanwhile, Facebook chief Mark Zuckerberg faces a backlash from employees for deciding to take no action on the same Trump posts. This week, Snap said it would no longer promote Trump’s Snapchat posts, with the company citing his rhetoric “incit[ing] racial violence and injustice.”

Twitter’s current policies carve out an exemption for political figures like Trump, under which tweets that would be violations for regular users may be left up if the company considers them to be in the “public interest.” Twitter amended that a year ago, saying that tweets by political figures that violate its regular policies would be displayed with a warning notice in front of tweets.

The first time Twitter applied that to one of Trump’s tweets was on the May 29 post in which the president said about protests in Minneapolis, “Any difficulty and we will assume control but, when the looting starts, the shooting starts. Thank you!”

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Australia’s AAP news agency lives on after finding buyers

Evan Lewis

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Australia's AAP news agency lives on after finding buyers

SYDNEY (Reuters) – Australian Associated Press (AAP) said on Friday it expects to be sold to a group of philanthropic investors, a reprieve for the news agency that had been facing closure, and for the industry, after a run of layoffs as advertising dwindles.

AAP had planned to close this month after 85 years but said it now expected to stay in business, albeit with fewer staff, after it and a group of investors agreed on a sale for an undisclosed sum.

“After months of discussions with various parties, it appears we have been able to secure a new home for AAP’s legacy of trusted news,” AAP chief executive Bruce Davidson said in a statement.

AAP said the buyers included Peter Tonagh, a former chief executive of the Australian division of Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp, and unidentified philanthropists and “impact investors”.

The sale is good news for an industry hit by widespread layoffs in recent months as restrictions on movement to contain the novel coronavirus batter the retail sector, cutting advertising revenue that media companies rely on.

News Corp’s Australian arm said last week it would stop printing more than 100 newspapers, while the Australian edition of Buzzfeed News and ViacomCBS Inc owned free-to-air broadcaster Ten Network shut down their news sites.

AAP’s buyers said they wanted to ensure its long-term survival.

“We live in a time where trusted, unbiased news is more important than ever,” Tonagh said in the statement.

“AAP has always delivered on that and we are committed to seeing that continue into the future.”

Tonagh said the buyers would hire up to 90 AAP staff, including up to 75 editorial staff, about half its workforce.

Before it called in administrators in March, AAP’s major shareholders included News Corp and rival newspaper publisher Nine Entertainment Holdings Co Ltd.

Reporting by Byron Kaye; Editing by Robert Birsel

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