World News

Democracy books disappear from Hong Kong libraries

HONG KONG (AFP) – Books written by prominent Hong Kong democracy activists have started to disappear from the city’s libraries, online records show, days after Beijing imposed a draconian national security law on the finance hub.

Among the authors whose titles are no longer available are Joshua Wong, one of the city’s most prominent young activists, and Tanya Chan, a well-known pro-democracy lawmaker.

Beijing’s new national security law was imposed on Tuesday (June 30) and is the most radical shift in how the semi-autonomous city is run since it was handed back to China by Britain in 1997.

China’s authoritarian leaders say the powers will restore stability after a year of pro-democracy protests, will not stifle freedoms and will only target a “very small minority”.

But it has already sent fear coursing through a city used to speaking openly, with police arresting people for possessing slogans pushing independence or greater autonomy and businesses scrambling to remove protest displays.

Wong said he believed the removal of the books was sparked by the security law.

“White terror continues to spread, the national security law is fundamentally a tool to incriminate speech,” he wrote on Facebook, using a phrase that refers to political persecution.

Searches on the public library website showed at least three titles by Wong, Chan and local scholar Chin Wan were no longer available for lending at any of dozens of outlets across the city.

An AFP reporter was unable to find the titles at a public library in the district of Wong Tai Sin on Saturday afternoon.

The city’s leisure and cultural services department said it would provide a statement later on Saturday (July 4).

The national security law targets acts of subversion, secession, terrorism and colluding with foreign forces.

China says it will have jurisdiction in some cases and empowered its security apparatus to set up shop openly in Hong Kong for the first time, ending the legal firewall between the two.

Rights groups and legal analysts say the broad wording of the law – which was kept secret until it was enacted – outlaws certain political views, even if expressed peacefully.

Any promotion of independence or greater autonomy appears to be banned by the legislation. Another vaguely worded provision bans inciting hatred towards the Chinese or Hong Kong government.

On the authoritarian mainland, similar national security laws are routinely used to crush dissent.

The new security law and the removal of books raises questions of whether academic freedom still exists.

Hong Kong has some of Asia’s best universities and a campus culture where topics that would be taboo on the mainland are still discussed and written about.

But Beijing has made clear it wants education in the city to become more “patriotic”, especially after a year of huge, often violent and largely youth-led pro-democracy protests.

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Marshall Wace targets $1 billion for new ESG focused fund

(Reuters) – Marshall Wace is planning to raise $1 billion for a new fund which will invest based on environmental and other ethical criteria, a source familiar with the matter told Reuters.

The hedge fund, co-founded by British financier Paul Marshall, will rely on external analysts who focus on environmental, social and governance (ESG) issues, the source said on Saturday.

The fund will bet against stocks with poor ratings and will buy stocks with strong ESG characteristics, the source added, confirming an earlier Financial Times report.

Marshall Wace, which has a total of around $45 billion in assets, will include the new fund in its $19 billion computer-driven TOPS trading system, the source told Reuters.

This system analyses ‘buy’ or ‘sell’ recommendations from about a thousand analysts at banks and research houses to come up with trading signals.

Founded in 1997, Marshall Wace employs more than 240 people in London, New York and Hong Kong.

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Harassment findings against top judge in Australia prompt calls to improve workplace safety for women

SYDNEY – The revelation that a former Australian High Court judge, Dyson Heydon, allegedly sexually harassed multiple younger women has stunned the legal profession and prompted moves to overhaul workplace practices.

An independent inquiry by the High Court found that Mr Heydon, 77, a world-renowned legal expert, sexually harassed six female judges’ associates – five of whom worked for him – during his time on the court from 2003 to 2013. The role of associate to one of Australia’s seven High Court judges is one of the country’s most prestigious, keenly-contested positions for young lawyers.

In a statement last week, the High Court Chief Justice Susan Kiefel confirmed the inquiry’s findings. She said the court had apologised to the women and was “ashamed that this could have happened”.

“Their accounts of their experiences at the time have been believed,” she said. “I have appreciated the opportunity to talk with a number of the women about their experiences and to apologise to them in person.”

Mr Heydon’s lawyers “emphatically” denied the allegations of sexual harassment or any offence.

“Our client says that if any conduct of his has caused offence, that result was inadvertent and unintended and he apologises for any offence caused,” the lawyers said in a statement.

The allegations have sent shock waves across the legal community and led to calls for changes in workplace practices at law firms, courts and barristers’ chambers.

The Prime Minister, Mr Scott Morrison, said the allegations involving Mr Heydon were “very disturbing and very concerning and they’re incredibly serious”. He said all workplaces should prevent harassment and ensure people can confidently report misconduct, adding that he wanted his own two young daughters to have a safe future in the workplace.

“When my girls go to work, I want them to go to work in a safe environment where they are valued and respected for their talents and their abilities,” he said. “I would just be devastated if they ever found themselves in a situation like that.”

The High Court said it had adopted the recommendations of the inquiry into the allegations against Mr Heydon and would develop a further human resources policy for its associates. It will also appoint a person at the court who can “check in regularly with associates” and provide support.

The Law Council of Australia, a peak national body for lawyers, said a failure to address sexual harassment was prompting women lawyers to quit the legal profession. It called on the federal government to create a federal judicial commission that can deal with complaints.

“The attrition rate of women lawyers is high, and experiences of sexual harassment are a key reason why women leave the law,” the council said in a statement. “This is damaging and costly – for individuals, for firms, and for the current and future standing of the legal profession.”

Mr Heydon, a father of four, was one of the country’s most prominent jurists. A university medallist and former Rhodes Scholar, he was regarded as a conservative, black-letter judge and was appointed to the High Court by the former conservative prime minister, Mr John Howard. Mr Heydon also headed a royal commission into the trade union movement after being appointed in 2014 by another former conservative prime minister, Mr Tony Abbott. Both Mr Howard and Mr Abbott belong to Mr Morisson’s ruling Liberal-National coalition.

Following the High Court’s release of the inquiry’s findings, Mr Heydon resigned as an international judge of the Singapore International Commercial Court. A spokesman for Singapore’s Supreme Court said that he resigned “in view of the recent developments and to enable him to deal with the outcome of the inquiry”.

There are now calls to strip Mr Heydon of his Queen’s Counsel title – which is bestowed on leading barristers – and also his award of the Companion of the Order of Australia. Police in the Australian Capital Territory said they were making inquiries into the allegations against him but said they could not confirm whether a formal investigation had been launched. Three of his former associates are planning to lodge compensation claims against him.

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IS convert jailed for St Paul’s Cathedral bomb plot

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Safiyya Shaikh, a 37-year-old mother and drug addict from Hayes in west London, extensively researched how to cause maximum carnage at the visitor attraction and place of worship, saying she wanted “a lot to die” before being killed herself so she could reach paradise.

Shaikh’s murderous plans came to fruition when she sought help from a bomb-making expert believed to be a willing co-conspirator – only to find it was an undercover officer.

She admitted preparation of terrorist acts and dissemination of terrorist publications on the internet.

Shaikh’s defence team said she had “doubts” over the plot. But moments before the judge was due to sentence her on Thursday, prosecutors disclosed details of a phone call to a friend from prison in which Shaikh said: “I didn’t get cold feet, yeah – I was ready to go through with it.”

Sentencing Shaikh to life with a minimum term of 14 years at the Old Bailey yesterday, Mr Justice Sweeney said: “I had already reached the sure conclusion in the original evidence that your claim of doubt to the police and others was a lie.

“Your intention had been – and remained throughout – strong.”

Shaikh, who sat in the dock wearing a black hijab with her head bowed, showed little emotion as the sentence was read out.

She smiled and raised her index finger – widely recognised as an Islamic State salute – to members of the press as she was led from court.

Commander Richard Smith, head of the Metropolitan Police’s Counter Terrorism Command, said: “She loved watching graphic videos of terrorist killings and her mission… was to inspire others to fight, even after she hoped to have died in a suicide attack.

She was so serious about her propaganda work, she wanted to ensure it would continue even after she had died.

Shaikh was clearly dangerous. She was spreading vile directives for mass murder across the world and also planning her own horrific terrorist attack on UK soil.”

Shaikh, born Michelle Ramsden, converted to Islam in 2007 when she was impressed by the kindness of a local Muslim family but her view of Islam became increasingly extremist, and she stopped attending mosques.

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Golf: Chris Kirk and Webb Simpson share US PGA lead in Detroit at halfway mark, with six players a shot back

WASHINGTON (AFP) – Chris Kirk, seeking his first US PGA Tour title since 2015, and recent winner Webb Simpson shared the lead on Friday (July 3) after the second round of the Rocket Mortgage Classic in Detroit, Michigan.

Kirk, 35, walked away from golf last year, sidelining himself for seven months to address depression and alcohol abuse.

He grabbed a share of the halfway lead at Detroit Golf Club with a seven-under 65 that included a birdie hole out from a bunker at the 11th and a chip-in for birdie at the 12th.

He had opened his round with three straight birdies and was 13 under for the tournament before a bogey at No. 18 capped his seven-under 65 for a 12-under total of 132.

Simpson, a former US Open champion who won the Heritage two weeks ago, had eight birdies in his eight-under 64.

The world No. 6 struck his approach within two feet of the pin for birdie at the ninth and holed out from a bunker for birdie at the 16th on his way to the top of a jam-packed leaderboard.

World No. 10 Bryson DeChambeau headlined a group of six players sharing third on 133 who also included Ireland’s Seamus Power and Americans Matthew Wolff, Mark Hubbard, Ryan Armour and Richy Werenski.

It was a further stroke back to American Kevin Kisner and Austrian Sepp Straka – whose brother, Sam, is on the bag for Kirk this week.

Although the most recent of his four US PGA Tour titles was at Colonial five years ago, Kirk said a new-found perspective since his self-imposed hiatus – and a recent win on the developmental Korn Ferry Tour – have buoyed him.

“I’m very thankful to be out here playing again and I’m really enjoying competing,” he said. “But at the same time I realise there are things that are a lot bigger than this… I’m just happy to be in a really good place.”

He said his Korn Ferry victory had showed him he could put together solid rounds, and his faith in that was not shaken by a tough finish that saw him have to sink a testing six-footer to save par at No. 17 before a bogey at the 18th – where his four-footer for par lipped out.

Staying aggressive

“I didn’t quite do as good a job of (maintaining momentum) late in the round today,” he said. “But at the same time I felt I was in the right place mentally.

“I was trying to stay aggressive and trying to just keep making birdies. It didn’t quite work out, but I’m proud of the way I played.”

Simpson hit 13 of 14 fairways and 17 of 18 greens in regulation, and at the only green he missed – at No. 16 – he made birdie from a greenside bunker.

DeChambeau, who was frustrated after four bogeys in his first-round 66, minimised his mistakes in his second-round 67 that included five birdies without a bogey.

“Making those mistakes was getting on me,” DeChambeau said. “Coming off with a clean card today makes me feel really good and finishing up with a birdie gives me some inspiration for tomorrow to play well.”

Wolff, a second-year tour player seeking his second tour title, got to 11-under with an eight-under 64, teeing off on the 10th and stringing together six straight birdies from the 14th through to the the first to climb the leaderboard.

Armour also signed for a 64 that included a hole in one at the par-three fifth.

Ireland’s Power, Hubbard and Werenski all carded rounds of 66.

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Singapore GE2020: WP, PAP teams for Aljunied spell out stakes in political broadcast

In the 2015 General Election, the Workers’ Party (WP) had a close call in Aljunied GRC, when it bested the People’s Action Party (PAP) by just 2,626 votes.

Recounting the result yesterday in a televised broadcast, WP chief Pritam Singh told Aljunied voters the party understands their vote has to be earned.

“We have worked hard to earn your trust, sometimes under difficult circumstances. For those who feel that we have not met your expectations, we seek your understanding and promise to do better.

“Now, more than ever, your vote is essential to chart the kind of political system Singapore should have,” he said.

Spelling out the high stakes in this year’s general election, in the first of a series of constituency political broadcasts, Mr Singh reiterated a key theme of his party’s campaign: that a strong opposition presence is important and there is a need to have elected opposition MPs in Parliament.

The WP had wrested Aljunied – the only opposition-held GRC in Singapore – from the PAP in 2011.

But it won by a much smaller margin four years later with 50.95 per cent of the vote share, enough to trigger a recount into the wee hours of the morning.

Mr Singh said that as MPs in Parliament, his party had asked tough questions on residents’ behalf to hold the PAP government accountable.

“As WP MPs, we have been rational and responsible. We support the government agenda when we think it is on the right track, and oppose it only when we find the direction is not in the national interest,” he said, citing the party’s opposition to the 2013 Population White Paper and the goods and services tax hike as examples.

Expanding on the theme of the need for checks and balances, fellow WP candidate Gerald Giam urged voters not to be swayed by the PAP’s argument that there is no need to vote for the opposition, as the Non-Constituency MP (NCMP) scheme ensures their voice in Parliament.

“The PAP will feel safe as long as their two-thirds majority is not threatened. But once the opposition gains more seats, they will be forced to consult you, and you will also get a more responsive government,” said Mr Giam, a former NCMP.

Rounding up the WP team in Aljunied are two other incumbent MPs – party chairman Sylvia Lim and Mr Faisal Manap – as well as former NCMP Leon Perera. Mr Giam and Mr Perera will replace former party chief Low Thia Khiang and party stalwart Chen Show Mao, who will not be standing for election.

Mr Perera said the voices of NCMPs can be ignored, as they do not carry the full mandate of the people. On the other hand, “the voices of fully elected opposition MPs cannot be ignored by the PAP at the risk of losing more fully elected seats”.

Mr Singh also sought to pre-empt concerns over the mismanagement of the Aljunied-Hougang Town Council.

The town council has steadily built up its operating funds and most recently recorded an accumulated surplus of $7.9 million, more than double the accumulated surplus recorded when it took over from the previous town council in 2011, he said.

The High Court found last October that Ms Lim and Mr Low had breached their fiduciary duties towards the town council in hiring a managing agent company without calling a tender. They have appealed against the ruling.

The PAP team, on the other hand, argued that community should come before politics.

PAP’s Bedok Reservoir-Punggol branch chairman Victor Lye said: “Aljunied is yours – not someone’s political hostage”.

His fellow PAP candidate for Aljunied GRC, Mr Shamsul Kamar, asked: “Are we (Aljunied) the check and balance mechanism for the country or the catalyst to take Singapore forward and scale greater heights?”

Rounding up the PAP camp are lawyer Alex Yeo, marketing director Chan Hui Yuh and bank executive Chua Eng Leong.

Mr Chua pointed out that despite losing in the last two general elections, the PAP team has not left Aljunied behind.

On the contrary, it has continued to improve the infrastructure there, with plans to build new polyclinics, community hospitals and MRT stations.

The team also outlined plans to set up job centres and a pocket money fund for disadvantaged children, and secure cheaper essential goods and services for residents.

Ms Chan and Mr Yeo described their collaborative approach to providing local services and programmes. Ms Chan plans to set up a local fund for residents, so that even those living in private estates are eligible as long as their income level is below a stated sum.

She said: “Our help schemes will be based on trust and not on rules that may make it difficult for you to get help when you need it.”

Mr Yeo stressed the need to listen and deliver what residents really need.

Citing his ward’s grocery distribution programme as an example, he said: “We raised funds so that we could purchase items based on feedback, giving beneficiaries what they need. We must always listen, go the extra mile and try our very best.”

Wrapping up the team’s speech, Mr Lye said that the PAP team “can do better” for Aljunied residents.

“In GE2015, we stood up for you. Forced a recount. The opposition who lost could enter Parliament; we could only look on and resumed helping you the next day.

“It’s been nine years. It’s time. Bring us home.”

Singapore GE2020: Get full election coverage on our dedicated site here.

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Iran imposes new curbs as coronavirus toll rises

(Reuters) – Iranians who do not wear masks will be denied state services and workplaces that fail to comply with health protocols will be shut for a week, President Hassan Rouhani said on Saturday as he launched new measures to try to curb the coronavirus.

Iran has been battling the spread of the coronavirus, with the total number of cases hitting 237,878 on Saturday and a further 148 deaths bringing the country’s toll to 11,408, Health Ministry spokeswoman Sima Sadat Lari said on state television.

Wearing masks becomes mandatory from Sunday in covered public places, Rouhani said on state television after tougher curbs were imposed in cities and towns in five provinces where the outbreak is rising after an easing of lockdowns from mid-April.

“Government employees should not serve people who do not wear masks and employees who do not wear them should be considered absentees and sent home,” said Rouhani.

And a government website published photos of Rouhani, who is rarely seen wearing a mask, with a face covering. 

Those infected have a “religious duty” to notify others, Rouhani said, adding: “Keeping your infection a secret violates the rights of other people”.

The government has been trying to convince a reluctant public to accept masks and a week-long campaign by state television has been warning viewers that “Corona is not a joke”.

One TV presenter at the end of every newscast puts on her mask and says: “There is no one in my immediate three metres, but I wear a mask outside the studio. You, too, wear one.”

State media reported on Saturday that 19 Iranian football players from the national Esteghlal and Foolad Khuzestan clubs had tested positive for the coronavirus.

Iran’s armed forces has reduced their two-month basic combat training by a month until further notice because of the increased spread of the coronavirus.

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With no paparazzi or parties, Paris prepares for virtual fashion week

PARIS (Reuters) – Paris is usually abuzz during its prestigious Haute Couture presentations in July, its hotels heaving with fashionistas and monuments turned into catwalk venues.

But in a makeover caused by the coronavirus crisis, top designers will instead be experimenting next week with online showcases to try to keep clients hooked.

Brands from Christian Dior to Valentino are pressing ahead with collections and shows through an organised schedule of videos running from July 6-8.

That has helped keep some textile suppliers and artisans going, though other businesses are feeling the absence of a larger event keenly. 

“The impact of a virtual fashion week on our business is serious, because there are no more clients to drive around,” said Guillaume Connan, whose limousine company usually ferries A-listers around between shows.

Paris’s multiple fashion weeks generate some 1.2 billion euros ($1.35 billion) for the local economy every year, the federation grouping couture houses estimates.

At the Haute Couture week, a select club of designers display one-of-a-kind, handmade outfits. 

“I will miss the audience, I will miss my friends,” said couturier Stephane Rolland. 

But Christophe Josse, another French couturier who has also produced a film, said he had enjoyed being able to highlight the intricacies of his designs differently and would consider doing it again. 

“I was a little hesitant at first, wondering what we’d be able to say in a digital fashion week,” Josse said. 

It is still unclear whether the format will be a hit with his clients, who include wealthy Americans who would normally travel to a show, Josse added. 

Physical catwalk displays are likely to be back on the agenda in Paris by September and brands are already booking venues, said Frederic Hocquard, who oversees tourism and some cultural affairs at Paris’s city council.

He added that the hiatus this time could have some positive side effects, despite the economic hit – including as an inspiration for greener formats in future, which would not generate as much congestion or waste.

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Here’s what you should eat before, during and after a workout

Fitness enthusiasts are always on the lookout to train better, longer and harder. But sometimes, one may feel worn-out after a workout session which may happen due to lack of good nutrition before the exercises. Food is fuel to our body and the right quantity is needed to function properly and maximise the efforts while working out. Therefore, eating before, in-between and post the training can boost results and help in improving the performance to reach the desired fitness goal.

Before the workout

Fitness expert Bhavaya Chawla and founder of Built Natural states that nutrition should be planned according to the workout timings. For health-conscious enthusiasts who prefer early morning workouts, he recommends, “They must have a good meal for dinner that should include protein as well as carbohydrates which acts as stored energy in the body otherwise they may feel lethargic in the morning .” He also suggests one cup of black coffee 45 minutes
pre-workout may help in some extra energy.

If you have it 1-3 hours before starting the workout, nutritionist Kavita Devgan advises, “A high quality carbohydrate pre-workout snack. Some examples are low-fat granola bars, fig bars, a peanut butter and jelly sandwich or a banana.”

The reason to consume carbohydrates before any exercise is that they help fuel muscles, and lessen inflammation post the session and also lessens some of the physiological stress of working out, according to Devgan.

Another important aspect to consider before you fuel up your body before the fitness regime is the kind of activity and the intensity range. Chawla says, “Nutrition and meals also depend upon the intensity of the workouts. If intensity is high, it is always advised to have a good meal pre-workout before 2 hours (protein and carbohydrates). Same is applicable if your are doing high intensity strength training, running long distance or cycling.” He further adds, “Avoiding consumption of fat before a workout as it takes lot of time to digest.”

During the workout

While many give important to pre and post workout foods, Devgan highlights the importance of keeping the body hydrated during the workout. While working out, the body temperature rises and starts to cool down on its own when one starts to sweat and if the body doesn’t have enough water stored, it can lead to dehydration. Hence it is advised to take a water break after every 15 minutes of your workout. But make sure not to consume more than 500ml during the exercise as it may make you feel nauseating and give you a headache.

After the workout

Feeding your body post workout is as important as eating before. It is mainly because of the energy used during the exercise which needs to be restored. For after after-training, Chawla recommends, “It is always advised to replenish yourself with electrolytes which are lost during the workout. Coconut water is a good source for it. Feed your body with high protein and low carbohydrates post workout.”

Also, make sure smart food choices as you wouldn’t want to waste the energy and effort spent during the session by eating rich foods and large portions. Devgan suggests, “A combination of low-fat dairy (a great recovery food with plenty of protein) like yoghurt or Greek yoghurt and a fruit or berries, is a perfect combination. Other foods include hard boiled eggs and whole wheat egg rolls (with the yolk). You can also replace egg filling with sweet potatoes. Or one could go for chocolate milk with fruit.”

Other tips to keep in mind:

• Avoid intake of candy and fruit juice before the workout as high-sugar foods may lead to drop in blood-sugar level while exercising that can make you feel tired. Go for whole fruits instead.

• Keep a check on the fibre consumption. Avoid beans and fibrous veggies that can stimulate the digestive system later.

• Hydration is the key. Drink at least half a litre of water 30 to 60 minutes before starting the workout.

• After you finish the workout, give your body at least 30 minutes to cool down before eating.

• Egg with yolks is recommended to be eaten post workout because as the muscle-building response from whole eggs is greater compared to egg whites alone.

• Milk is also a great option for post-workout to rebuild the muscles. Devgan says, “It is 90% water too, so it replaces some of the fluids you lose during exercise and fruit adds the micronutrients, carbs and fibre.”

Interact with author/sanchita_kalra.

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Plymouth emergency: Armed police rush to incident as residents ordered to stay indoors

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It has not yet been confirmed what the nature of the incident is. 

Devon and Cornwall Police Force Incident Manager, have confirmed there is an operation taking place on Ham Drive. 

The local police force is expected to provide more details in due course.

Local residents have claimed they have been asked to remain in their homes. 

In pictures from Plymouth Live, police dogs have also arrived at the scene. 

A journalist for the paper, Erin Black has also reported seeing firefighters and paramedics descended on the scene near the Cherry Tree pub.  

More to follow…

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