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Fresh Hong Kong fears spark sell-off across Asia

Tori Holland

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Fresh Hong Kong fears spark sell-off across Asia

Hong Kong led a sell-off across Asian equities Friday after China introduced proposals to enact a national security law for the city, fanning geopolitical tensions and overshadowing optimism about a further easing of virus lockdowns across Europe and the US.

After months of concentrating on the economic impact of the coronavirus, traders’ attention flipped back to China-US tensions, already exacerbated by Donald Trump’s constant criticism of Beijing’s handling of the pandemic.

On the first day of its rubber-stamp parliament, China submitted proposals to strengthen “enforcement mechanisms” in the financial hub, after it was rocked last year by seven months of massive and sometimes violent pro-democracy protests.

Plans for the announcement had sparked warnings of “the end of Hong Kong” and fears of further unrest, which crippled the city’s economy, even before the coronavirus struck.

And it sparked criticism from Washington, with the State Department saying the move would be “highly destabilising, and would be met with strong condemnation from the United States and the international community”.

Shares in Hong Kong sank more than four percent going into the break, with financials and property firms battered as investors fretted about the city’s economic future.

“Riots in the street and plummeting real estate markets might be the least of Hong Kong’s building wall of worry as this authoritarian national security plan will most certainly bring into question HK status as a global banking centre,” said Stephen Innes of AxiCorp.

US lawmakers have already passed a law that would strip the city’s preferential trading status in the United States if it no longer enjoys autonomy from the mainland.

“The geopolitical risks are meaningful,” David Riley, chief investment strategist at BlueBay Asset Management LLP said on Bloomberg TV. “It’s a concern for the market, and is a potential source of weakness and a correction.”

– More stress for markets –

And Kenny Wen of Everbright Sun Hung Kai Co, added: “We could have new protests. Local tensions could trigger Sino-US tensions and the latter is much more stressful for market sentiment and macroeconomy.”

Losses elsewhere in Asia were shallower than in Hong Kong.

Tokyo fell 0.7 percent, while Shanghai, Seoul, Taipei, Manila and Bangkok dropped more than one percent.

Singapore shed two percent and Sydney was 0.8 percent off, while Wellington and Mumbai dropped 0. 4 percent.

The Chinese congress also saw leaders make the rare move of not setting an annual growth target this year owing to the virus crisis, with Premier Li Keqiang saying that Beijing will “give priority to stabilising employment and ensuring living standards”.

Concerns about China-US tensions took away from news that more countries were edging out of virus lockdowns after new deaths and infections ease and observers said the worst of the pain for the global economy may have passed.

Still, the US reported another 2.43 million workers applied for unemployment benefits last week, bringing the total since the shutdowns began in mid-March to 38.6 million.

The fresh uncertainty also weighed on oil prices, with WTI off nearly five percent with profit-taking also playing a part after weeks of strong gains.

Both main contracts were above $30 per barrel however, thanks to a huge cut in output by key producers and on hopes for increased demand as lockdowns are lifted.

– Key figures around 0445 GMT –

Tokyo – Nikkei 225: DOWN 0.7 percent at 20,407.68

Hong Kong – Hang Seng: DOWN 4.6 percent at 23,160.11 (break)

Shanghai – Composite: DOWN 1.3 percent at 2,830.45 (break)

West Texas Intermediate: DOWN 4.9 percent at $32.26 per barrel

Brent North Sea crude: DOWN 3.4 percent at $34.84 per barrel

Euro/dollar: DOWN at $1.0931 from $1.0949 at 2100 GMT

Dollar/yen: DOWN at 107.43 yen from 107.60 yen

Pound/dollar: DOWN at $1.2209 from $1.2223

Euro/pound: UP at 89.53 pence from 89.57 pence

New York – Dow: DOWN 0.4 percent at 24,474.12 (close)

London – FTSE 100: DOWN 0.9 percent at 6,015.25 (close)

After being a professional journalist for 5 years and understanding the ups and downs of health care sector all over the world, Tori shifted her focus to the digital world. Today, she works as a contributor for News Brig with a knack for covering general and health news in the best possible format.

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Killing of Palestinian with autism a “tragedy”

Tori Holland

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Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, wearing a protective mask due to the COVID-19 pandemic, chairs the weekly cabinet meeting in Jerusalem, Sunday, June 7, 2020. (Menahem Kahana/Pool Photo via AP)

JERUSALEM (AP) — Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Sunday called the deadly police shooting of an unarmed Palestinian man with autism a “tragedy,” although he stopped short of apologizing for the incident.

Netanyahu’s remarks were the first he’s made since police in Jerusalem’s Old City shot and killed Eyad Hallaq last week. The 32-year-old Palestinian with severe autism was chased by Israeli border police forces into a nook in Jerusalem’s Old City and fatally shot as he cowered next to a garbage bin after apparently being mistaken for an attacker.

The shooting has drawn comparisons to the death of George Floyd in the U.S. and prompted a series of small demonstrations against police violence toward Palestinians. Some Israeli figures have paid condolence visits to the grieving Hallaq family.

At last week’s Cabinet meeting, a day after the shooting, Defense Minister Benny Gantz, who is also Israel’s “alternate” prime minister under a power-sharing deal, apologized for the incident. Netanyahu, seated next to him, made no mention of it in his remarks at the time.

“What happened with the Hallaq family, with Eyad Hallaq, is a tragedy. A person with disabilities, with autism, who was suspected we now know unjustly of being a terrorist in a very sensitive place,” Netanyahu said Sunday. “We all share in the grief of the family.”

Netanyahu said he was awaiting police examinations of the event, but unlike Gantz did not apologize. Israel’s Justice Ministry has said two officers have been placed under house arrest, but gave no further details.

Police said that officers in the Old City spotted a man carrying a “suspicious object that looked like a pistol.” When the man failed to heed calls to stop, police said they opened fire and “neutralized” him after a chase in a volatile area that has seen several previous attacks.

The shooting came two weeks after another fatal shooting of an Arab man outside an Israeli hospital. According to police, the man was shot after stabbing a security guard. Security camera footage showed the man, who reportedly suffered from mental illness, lying on the ground when he was shot multiple times.

For Palestinians in the occupied West Bank and contested east Jerusalem, and members of Israel’s Arab minority, these cases reflect what they see as Israeli forces’ loose trigger fingers when it comes to dealing with Arab suspects.

Hallaq’s death, in particular, has reverberated across Israel, with his image raised on signs at a demonstration in Tel Aviv Saturday night against Israeli plans to annex parts of the West Bank. “This is what occupation looks like,” read signs bearing Hallaq’s image.

Inspired by the protests in the U.S., demonstrators held signs reading “Palestinian Lives Matter” and photographs of Hallaq alongside Floyd.

Lone Palestinian attackers with no clear links to armed groups have carried out a series of stabbings, shootings and car-ramming attacks in recent years.

Palestinians and Israeli human rights groups have long accused Israeli security forces of using excessive force in some cases, either by killing individuals who could have been arrested or using lethal force when their lives were not in danger.

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What it’s like to be a black NYPD sergeant in NYC

Evan Lewis

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What it's like to be a black NYPD sergeant in NYC

Sgt. Edmund Small, 46, is an NYPD veteran and a member of the executive board of the Sergeants Benevolent Association. Appointed to the NYPD in 1997, he was promoted to sergeant in 2005. He is currently assigned to the 70th Precinct in Brooklyn, the notorious stationhouse where cops sexually assaulted Haitian immigrant Abner Louima in 1997. Small tells The Post’s Dean Balsamini his story of what it’s like to be black and blue amid the nationwide furor following the murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis.  

When I was 5 years old, I saw a woman being beaten by two men with a bed frame and an African-American police officer make the arrest. This is the reason I became a police officer.  From that day forward, I have had a passion to help others. Shirley Chisholm once said, “Service is the rent you pay for room on this earth.”  What better service is there than to help others?

I was born and raised in Brooklyn, the son of Jamaican immigrants.  I’m a 22-year vet of the NYPD and face the challenges of being an African-American police officer every day.  It’s like a balancing act.  People see you more as being a part of the problem rather than part of the solution. Because I’m in my uniform, people’s biases make them forget that I am also a black man who also feels the effects of racism.  Being a black man in America comes with its struggles — struggles that I am not exempt from just because I am a police officer.

I have faced racism on the job … even from fellow officers. The NYPD is a microcosm of our society so of course racism exists within it.  I remember the experience of applying to be transferred to the elite Harbor Unit.  An executive told me that I wouldn’t like Harbor because it “entailed swimming” and refused to sign my transfer. I believe that he was using his implicit bias about what he thought to be true about blacks and swimming in order to deny me an opportunity. It took an African-American chief to intervene and I was ultimately transferred.

In the 175 years of the NYPD, the department has had only two African-American police commissioners, two chiefs of patrol, and recently, only one chief of detectives. In my two decades with the NYPD, I have witnessed the slow progress in diversifying, not only the rank and file, but also the executive staff of the NYPD.  There’s been positive change, it’s just been slow.

Sgt. Edmund Small of the NYPD
Sgt. Edmund SmallJames Keivom

When I saw the video of Mr. Floyd’s death I was sickened to see a man die at the hands of a police officer. I have patrolled some of the toughest streets in Brooklyn and have never kneeled on a person’s neck to gain compliance. As far as the NYPD’s response to the protests, as a law enforcement professional, I support people’s right to protest and I believe that the NYPD has taken appropriate actions towards the looters.

The biggest misconception the public and the media has is that “good cops” aren’t saying anything about the “bad cops.” Or, that when situations like these happen, all cops just side in agreement with the officer who did the unjust deed. The fact is, the genesis of the majority of internal investigations are from “good cops” reporting “bad cops” to the Internal Affairs Bureau.

I believe that reasonable police reforms will come out of this. Just like other professions, there needs to be a national standard for policing.  Police departments from New York to Los Angeles should have the same standards. For example, the NYPD has banned choke holds, hog ties/positional asphyxiation.  These reforms will help reduce situations like the one that led to the death of Mr. Floyd.

On the other hand, I don’t believe that the movement to defund police departments or emergency services is productive, as it will ultimately hurt the black and brown communities the most.

As an African-American police officer I realize that I can be a bridge between minority communities and law enforcement. We are here to help them and inspire them to one day join the force.

It’s important for the younger generation of black and brown children to see that all police are not bad, just like I did sitting on the stoop as a kid in East New York all those years.

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Indonesia reports 672 new coronavirus infections, 50 deaths

Evan Lewis

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Indonesia reports 672 new coronavirus infections, 50 deaths

FILE PHOTO: Indonesia Muslims wearing protective face masks stand in line before taking part in Friday prayers, amid the spread of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak, in Jakarta, Indonesia, June 5, 2020. REUTERS/Ajeng Dinar Ulfiana

(Reuters) – Indonesia on Sunday reported 672 new coronavirus infections, taking the total to 31,186, said a health ministry official.

There were 50 new deaths, taking the total to 1,851, while 10,498 people have recovered, the official, Achmad Yurianto, said.

Reporting by Stanley Widianto; editing by Jason Neely

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