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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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World News

Hong Kong protesters use 'hidden language' to dodge security law

Residents use wordplay and even Chinese Communist Party literature to express dissent against new national security law.

People of Hong Kong are finding creative ways to voice dissent after Beijing blanketed the city in a new security law and police began arresting people displaying now forbidden political slogans.

Faced with the sudden threat of prosecution for anything that might promote greater autonomy or independence for the restless city, residents are using wordplay and even subverting Chinese Communist Party dogma to express their frustration.

On a bridge in the busy shopping district of Causeway Bay, a key spot for pro-democracy protests over the past year, traffic thunders past newly daubed graffiti that declares: “Arise, ye who refuse to be slaves”.

The phrase is taken from the first line of China’s national anthem. And while the graffiti could conceivably have been written by a patriotic nationalist, it is most likely a declaration of dissent.

Social media and chat forums have filled with suggestions for how to find safer ways to protest after Beijing on Tuesday imposed broad legislation banning subversion, secession, “terrorism” and foreign collusion.

In a semi-autonomous city used to speaking its mind, people will find ways around the law, said Chan Kin-man, a veteran democracy activist who has previously been jailed for his activism.

“In a public space, one might either not say anything or use an ‘officially-approved’ language to protect themselves,” he told AFP news agency.

“But hidden language is something that cannot be banned by laws.”

‘Seize back banana’

The local government on Thursday said the popular protest slogan “Liberate Hong Kong, revolution of our times” would now be deemed illegal.

For some, the phrase represents genuine aspirations to split Hong Kong from China, a red line for Beijing, but for many others, it is a more general cry for democracy and an expression of rising frustration with Chinese rule.

But coded language is allowing people to keep the slogan alive.

One version “GFHG, SDGM” uses English letters from the transliterated phrase “gwong fuk heung gong, si doi gak ming”.

Another more complex example mimics the tone and rhythm of the slogan using the digits “3, 2, 1, 9, 0, 2, 4, 6” in Cantonese.

Chinese characters themselves also provide ample room for linguistic subversion.

One phrase people have started adopting online is “seize back banana”, a play on the similar characters in traditional Chinese for Hong Kong and banana.

Others have gone for English slogans that appear positive but are a clear dig at Beijing – for example, the Trumpian phrase “Make Hong Kong Great”.

The very first arrest made under the new security law involved a deliberate linguistic challenge.

During protests a day after the law was enacted, police announced they had arrested a man with a flag that read “Hong Kong Independence”, posting a picture.

But eagle-eyed web sleuths zoomed in on the flag and spotted that a man had written a small “No” before his much larger phrase.

The same phrase has since gone viral online.

Blank paper and Mao quotes

Multiple pro-democracy restaurants and shops across the city have taken down their “Lennon Wall” displays expressing support for the pro-democracy movement after some were warned by police that they might violate the national security law.

The walls are often made up of colourful sticky notes with protest slogans on them.

One cafe replaced its wall with blank memos.

“What is essential is invisible to the eyes,” the shop wrote on its Facebook citing popular children’s book Le Petit Prince.

Another symbol of defiance that has replaced some protest art across the city is blank white pages.

The gesture represents the inability to speak out and also “white terror”, a Chinese phrase used to describe political persecution.

“Suppression catalyses people to fight back,” said Chan, who is also a sociology professor.

He likened the situation with how people in mainland China reveal dissent or anger towards the government with a wink and a nod.

“Hong Kong people will definitely respond more actively, it’s just that it might happen in a grey area.”

A slogan that went viral this week was a quote by Chinese leader Mao Zedong. It read: “Those who suppress the student movements will not come to a good end.”

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Paris' Louvre museum reopens on July 6 after crippling losses

PARIS (AFP) – The Louvre in Paris, the world’s most visited museum and home to the Mona Lisa, reopens next Monday (July 6) but with coronavirus restrictions in place and parts of the complex closed to visitors.

The Louvre has been closed since March 13 and this has already led “to losses of over €40 million (S$63 million),” its director Jean-Luc Martinez said.

Of more than 10 million visitors in 2018, almost three-quarters were tourists.

“We have lost 80 per cent of our public. Seventy-five per cent of our visitors were foreigners,” Mr Martinez said.

“We will at best see 20 to 30 per cent of our numbers recorded last summer – between 4,000 and 10,000 visitors daily at the most,” he said.

Visitors will have to wear masks, there will be no snacks or cloakrooms available and the public will have to follow a guided path through the museum.

Positions have been marked in front of the Mona Lisa – where tourists routinely pose for selfies – to ensure social distancing.

France contributes €100 million to the Louvre’s €250 million annual budget, and the museum must make up the rest, according to experts.

Seventy per cent of the museum’s public areas – or 45,000 square metres – will be open to the public.

After the success of its blockbuster Leonardo exhibition, which closed earlier this year, the Louvre said its two exhibitions scheduled for spring and then postponed would now take place in the autumn.

They are on Italian sculpture from Donatello to Michelangelo, and the renaissance German master Albrecht Altdorfer.

The Louvre has upped its virtual presence during the lockdown and said it was now the most followed museum in the world on Instagram, with over four million followers.

Mr Martinez is planning a revamp of the museum ahead of 2024, when Paris hosts the Olympic Games.

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India sets ambitious Covid-19 vaccine plan as outbreak surges

NEW DELHI (BLOOMBERG) – India has set an ambitious timeline for its first potential coronavirus vaccine – from human trials to general use in six weeks.

Bharat Biotech International, an unlisted Indian vaccine maker, received the regulatory nod to start human clinical trials for its experimental shot only earlier this week, but it already has India’s apex medical research body expediting the process.

The under-development vaccine is “envisaged” to be rolled out “for public health use by Aug 15 after completion of all clinical trials”, the Indian Council of Medical Research, or ICMR, said in a July 2 letter to clinical trial sites, which was seen by Bloomberg News.

It “is one of the top priority projects which is being monitored at the topmost level of the government”.

There’s been no evidence yet that Bharat Biotech’s vaccine is safe for use on humans, not to mention effective.

The envisioned timeline is markedly shorter than other front-runner vaccine efforts from American and Chinese drugmakers, most of which started human clinical trials months ago and are now entering the last of three stages of testing.

The bid underscores India’s urgent need for a way to halt the coronavirus, which has sickened more than 600,000 people and killed over 17,800 in the Asian nation – the world’s fourth-largest outbreak.

In its letter, the ICMR urged the trial sites to enroll volunteers by next Tuesday (July 7).

The speediness has alarmed some in the medical fraternity.

“Such an accelerated development pathway has not been done ever for any kind of vaccine, even the ones being tried out in other countries,” Mr Anant Bhan, a medical researcher at India’s Manipal University, said in a Twitter post. “Even with accelerated timelines, this seems rushed and hence, with potential risks.”

After abandoning a costly lockdown that caused tremendous economic suffering without slowing the virus’s spread, Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government is anxious to project control over the outbreak.

The Aug 15 deadline for Bharat Biotech’s vaccine may reflect that political pressure: That’s the day India celebrates its Independence from the British, marked by a nationwide address by Mr Modi.

Bharat Biotech plans to enroll 375 people in the first phase and 750 people in the second phase of clinical trials, said an ICMR spokesman. Whether the vaccine will be approved for general use depends on the outcomes of those trials, he said.

A spokesman for Bharat Biotech declined to comment on the Aug 15 timeline in ICMR’s letter.

While Bharat Biotech’s timeline is ambitious compared to other efforts, India’s mature medical manufacturing sector and its large population, from which human trial volunteers can be easily found, are factors that could help accelerate the usual vaccine development process.

The trial will start “most probably” by next Monday, said Professor C. Prabhakar Reddy from the Hyderabad’s Nizam’s Institute of Medical Sciences – one of the trial sites that received ICMR’s letter.

“We are all working day and night to meet the deadline but still it will be neck-to-neck race,” he said, adding that he doesn’t anticipate any shortage of volunteers “in the current scenario”.

A vaccine ready for public use will allow the safe reopening of schools, offices and factories to revive India’s economy, which is hurtling toward its first contraction in more than four decades. It’ll also tie in with self-reliance – a motto Mr Modi has repeated often in recent weeks.

Developing nations are eager to pare their dependence on other nations and foreign drugmakers in securing vaccines.

Called Covaxin, the “inactivated vaccine” candidate has demonstrated safety and immune response in pre-clinical studies, Bharat Biotech said in a June 29 statement that cited the firm’s “track record in developing vero cell culture platform technologies”. It has developed vaccines against polio, rotavirus, Japanese encephalitis, and zika, according to the statement.

Bharat Biotech “is working expeditiously to meet the target, however, final outcome will depend on the cooperation of all the clinical trial sites involved in the project”, the ICMR letter said.

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'Hidden language': Hong Kongers get creative in voicing dissent after new security law passed

HONG KONG (AFP) – Hong Kongers are finding creative ways to voice dissent after Beijing blanketed the city in a new security law and police began arresting people displaying now forbidden political slogans.

Faced with the sudden threat of prosecution for anything that might promote greater autonomy or independence for the restless city, residents are using word play and even subverting Chinese Communist Party dogma to express their frustration.

On a bridge in the busy shopping district of Causeway Bay, a key spot for pro-democracy protests over the past year, traffic thunders past newly daubed graffiti that declares: “Arise, ye who refuse to be slaves”.

The phrase is taken from the first line of China’s national anthem.

And while the graffiti could conceivably have been written by a patriotic nationalist, it is most likely a declaration of dissent.

Social media and chat forums have filled with suggestions for how to find safer ways to protest after Beijing on Tuesday (June 30) imposed broad legislation banning subversion, secession, terrorism and foreign collusion.

In a semi-autonomous city used to speaking its mind, people will find ways around the law, said Associate Professor Chan Kin Man, a veteran democracy activist who had previously been jailed for his activism.

“In a public space, one might either not say anything or use an ‘officially approved’ language to protect themselves,” he told AFP. “But hidden language is something that cannot be banned by laws.”

‘SEIZE BACK BANANA’

The local government on Thursday said the popular protest slogan “Liberate Hong Kong, revolution of our times” would now be deemed illegal.

For some the phrase represents genuine aspirations to split Hong Kong from China, a red line for Beijing, but for many others it is a more general cry for democracy and an expression of rising frustration with Chinese rule.

But coded language is allowing people to keep the slogan alive.

One version “GFHG, SDGM” uses English letters from the transliterated phrase “gwong fuk heung gong, si doi gak ming”.

Another more complex example mimics the tone and rhythm of the slogan using the numbers “3219 0246” in Cantonese.

Chinese characters themselves also provide ample room for linguistic subversion.

One phrase people have started adopting online is “seize back banana”, a play on the similar characters in traditional Chinese for Hong Kong and banana.

Others have gone for English slogans that appear positive but are a clear dig at Beijing – for example the Trumpian phrase “Make Hong Kong Great”.

The very first arrest made under the new security law involved a deliberate linguistic challenge.

During protests a day after the law was enacted, police announced they had arrested a man with a flag that read “Hong Kong Independence”, posting a picture.

But eagle-eyed Web sleuths zoomed in on the flag and spotted that a man had written a small “No” before his much larger phrase.

The same phrase has since gone viral online.

BLANK PAPER AND MAO QUOTES

Multiple pro-democracy restaurants and shops across the city have taken down their “Lennon Wall” displays expressing support for the pro-democracy movement after some were warned by police that they might violate the national security law.


Customers sit near blank notes on a “Lennon Wall” in Hong Kong on July 3, 2020. PHOTO: AFP

The walls are often made up of colourful sticky notes with protest slogans on them.

One cafe replaced its wall with blank memos.

“What is essential is invisible to the eyes,” the shop wrote on its Facebook citing popular children’s book The Little Prince.

Another symbol of defiance that has replaced some protest art across the city is blank white pages.

The gesture represents the inability to speak out and also “white terror”, a Chinese phrase used to describe political persecution.

“Suppression catalyses people to fight back,” said Assoc Prof Chan, who is also a sociology professor.

He likened the situation with how people in mainland China reveal dissent or anger towards the government with a wink and a nod.

“Hong Kong people will definitely respond more actively; it’s just that it might happen in a grey area”.

A slogan that went viral this week was a quote by Chinese leader Mao Zedong. It read: “Those who suppress the student movements will not come to a good end.”

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Sports

Athletics: US sprinter Gabrielle Thomas cleared by AIU in whereabouts failure case

(REUTERS) – American sprinter Gabrielle Thomas’ provisional suspension for allegedly failing to make herself available for anti-doping tests has been lifted, the Athletics Integrity Unit (AIU) said on Friday (July 4).

The two-time 200m winner at the Lausanne Diamond League had been banned in May by the AIU for allegedly missing three tests in a 12-month period, a violation of anti-doping rules.

But according to the AIU’s Twitter account, Thomas provided new evidence in June and as a result one of the missed tests cannot be established and so no anti-doping rule violation has been committed.

When the suspension was announced, the 23-year-old said in a statement made available to Reuters that one of the missed tests was not valid and that she expected to be cleared of charges.

“Phone tracking data and multiple witnesses will conclusively show that I was at the exact location I established in my whereabouts and that the doping control officer simply failed to locate me and failed to follow proper protocol,” Thomas said.

There has been no update on the status of her fellow American Deajah Stevens, 25, who was also provisionally suspended in May.

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More bodies to be buried in mass grave after Myanmar jade mine landslide

HPAKANT (REUTERS) – Dozens more jade miners killed in a landslide in northern Myanmar will be buried on Saturday (July 4), a local official said, after 77 others were interred in a mass grave on Friday following one of the worst mining accidents in the country’s history.

More than 170 people, many of them migrants seeking their fortune in the jade-rich Hpakant area of Kachin state, died on Thursday after mining waste collapsed into a lake, triggering a surge of mud and water.

The miners were collecting stones in Hpakant – the centre of Myanmar’s secretive billion-dollar jade industry – when the wave crashed onto them, entombing them under a layer of mud.

Thar Lin Maung, a local official from the information ministry, told Reuters by phone on Saturday that 171 bodies had been pulled out but more were continuing to float to the surface.

He said the 77 buried on Friday had been identified and 39 would be interred on Saturday. Volunteers carried plywood coffins and placed them into a mass grave carved out by diggers close to the mine site.

Many other bodies, battered and stripped of their clothing by the force of the wave that hit them, still have not been identified.

Myanmar supplies 90 per cent of the world’s jade, the vast majority of which is exported to neighbouring China, which borders Kachin state. Deadly landslides and other accidents are common in the mines, which draw impoverished workers from across Myanmar.

About 100 people were killed in a 2015 collapse that led to calls to regulate the industry. Another 50 died in 2019. But Thursday’s landslide was the worst in memory.

The country’s leader, Aung San Suu Kyi, on Friday blamed the disaster on joblessness in the country, lamenting in a Facebook Live broadcast that informal workers had to go to the mines for lack of other employment.

The government announced the formation of a committee to investigate the disaster.

However, activists say little has changed in the industry despite a pledge from Suu Kyi’s government to clean it up when she took power in 2016.

Rights group Global Witness said in a statement the landslide was a “damning indictment of the government’s failure to curb reckless and irresponsible mining practices.”

“Neither a promised new gemstone law, passed by Parliament in 2019, nor a gemstone policy that has been in production for several years have yet been implemented,” the statement said.

The rights group says the trade is worth billions of dollars a year, funds it says fuel armed conflict between government troops and ethnic Kachin rebels fighting for greater autonomy for the region.

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World News

More bodies to be buried in mass grave after Myanmar jade mine landslide

(Reuters) – Dozens more jade miners killed in a landslide in northern Myanmar will be buried on Saturday, a local official said, after 77 others were interred in a mass grave on Friday following one of the worst mining accidents in the country’s history.

More than 170 people, many of them migrants seeking their fortune in the jade-rich Hpakant area of Kachin state, died on Thursday after mining waste collapsed into a lake, triggering a surge of mud and water.

The miners were collecting stones in Hpakant – the centre of Myanmar’s secretive billion-dollar jade industry – when the wave crashed onto them, entombing them under a layer of mud.

Thar Lin Maung, a local official from the information ministry, told Reuters by phone on Saturday 171 bodies had been pulled out but more were continuing to float to the surface.

He said the 77 buried on Friday had been identified and 39 would be interred on Saturday. Volunteers carried plywood coffins and placed them into a mass grave carved out by diggers close to the mine site.

Many other bodies, battered and stripped of their clothing by the force of the wave that hit them, still have not been identified.

Myanmar supplies 90% of the world’s jade, the vast majority of which is exported to neighbouring China, which borders Kachin state. Deadly landslides and other accidents are common in the mines, which draw impoverished workers from across Myanmar.

About 100 people were killed in a 2015 collapse that led to calls to regulate the industry. Another 50 died in 2019. But Thursday’s landslide was the worst in memory.

The country’s leader, Aung San Suu Kyi, on Friday blamed the disaster on joblessness in the country, lamenting in a Facebook Live broadcast that informal workers had to go to the mines for lack of other employment.

The government announced the formation of a committee to investigate the disaster.

However, activists say little has changed in the industry despite a pledge from Suu Kyi’s government to clean it up when she took power in 2016.

Rights group Global Witness said in a statement the landslide was a “damning indictment of the government’s failure to curb reckless and irresponsible mining practices.”

“Neither a promised new Gemstone law, passed by parliament in 2019, nor a Gemstone policy that has been in production for several years have yet been implemented,” the statement said.

The rights group says the trade is worth billions of dollars a year, funds it says fuel armed conflict between government troops and ethnic Kachin rebels fighting for greater autonomy for the region.

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TikTok distances itself from Beijing in response to India app ban

Social media app says the Chinese government never requested user data, nor would the company turn it over if asked.

Social media app TikTok has distanced itself from Beijing after India banned 59 Chinese apps in the country, according to a correspondence seen by the Reuters news agency.

In a letter to the Indian government dated June 28 and seen by Reuters on Friday, TikTok Chief Executive Kevin Mayer said the Chinese government has never requested user data, nor would the company turn it over if asked.

TikTok, which is not available in China, is owned by China’s ByteDance but has sought to distance itself from its Chinese roots to appeal to a global audience.

Along with 58 other Chinese apps, including Tencent Holdings Ltd’s WeChat and Alibaba Group Holding Ltd’s UC Browser, it was banned in India this week following a border clash with China.

“I can confirm that the Chinese government has never made a request to us for the TikTok data of Indian users,” Mayer wrote, adding that data for Indian users is stored in servers in Singapore.

“If we do ever receive such a request in the future, we would not comply.”

The letter was sent in advance of a likely meeting next week between the company and the Indian government, one source familiar with the matter told Reuters.

Ban unlikely to be lifted

One government source told Reuters this week the ban was unlikely to be revoked soon.

Lawyers have said a legal challenge was unlikely to be successful, given India has cited national security concerns for the ban.

The ban, which upset India’s growing legion of TikTok stars, has also given a lift to local rivals such as Roposo, which added 22 million new users in the 48 hours after the ban took effect.

TikTok has committed to spend $1bn in the region.

Since its launch in 2017, it has become one of the fastest-growing social media apps. India was its largest market by user base, followed by the United States.

In the letter, Mayer played up the company’s investment in the region, highlighting more than 3,500 direct and indirect employees and content available in 14 languages.

“The privacy of our users, and the security and sovereignty of India, are of utmost importance to us,” Mayer wrote. “We have already announced our plans to build a data centre in India.”

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‘What was point of clapping?’ Radio caller furious as crowds gather outside pubs in London

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LBC radio caller Gideon furiously lashed out against huge crowds of Londoners gathering outside pubs on Friday night, ahead of the big return to normality for people in England this weekend after weeks of coronavirus lockdown measures. He told Rachel Johnson there was “zero social distancing” as he drove past pubs in the western areas of the capital. He said: “There is absolutely zero social distancing. You’re right, alcohol and coronavirus is not a good mix and we’ve seen that in America.

“The refusal by this government to actually understand what’s happening in other countries and take heed is beyond belief.”

Gideon said that if the government had opened beer gardens “that would have been an entirely different matter”.

He asked, “What was the point in everyone going out and clapping on a Thursday night?”

He then warned: “It only takes one person to cause a pandemic and we’ve seen that across the world, so until we have virtually zero cases it’s not over.”

A major easing of lockdown measures will see pubs, restaurants, bars and cinemas also able to open their doors again under modified social distancing restrictions.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock has warned people could end up “behind bars” if they get carried away as pubs across England reopen on what has been dubbed Super Saturday.

A major easing of lockdown measures sees pubs, restaurants, hairdressers and cinemas opening their doors again under modified social distancing regulations.

But Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Government experts have urged people to stick to the rules to avoid creating a second wave of coronavirus.

Mr Hancock told the Daily Mail that people were entitled to enjoy themselves at pubs, but added: “You could end up behind bars if you break the law.”

The comments came after Prime Minister Boris Johnson told people not to “blow” progress in combating the spread of the disease made during the lockdown as he deployed the Government’s new slogan “enjoy summer safely”.

Meanwhile the Health Secretary said he would not “shirk” from shutting pubs and restaurants again and imposing local lockdowns if needed.

He said: “I’m no killjoy, but the virus can still kill. I don’t want to see bars and pubs have to close again. I love going to the pub and enjoy a pint or two.”

Chancellor Rishi Sunak urged people to make the most of the easing to boost the economy, claiming the public needs to “eat out to help out”.

He told the Times: “This is a consumption-driven economy; people used to, three months ago, go out with their friends or family to go and have a meal. Or buy a car, or upgrade their house, or move house. Go camping, come up to the Yorkshire Dales and go coast to coast.”

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The comments come after chief medical officer Professor Chris Whitty said the coronavirus pandemic “is a long way from gone” as he urged the public to follow social-distancing rules as the lockdown is eased.

Sir Patrick Vallance, the chief scientific adviser, also warned of the danger of the “superspreading” of Covid-19 occurring in pubs.

At a Downing Street press conference on Friday Prof Whitty said: “None of us believes, and I’m sure nobody watching this believes this is a risk-free next step. It is absolutely not, that is why we have to be really serious about it.

“There’s no doubt these are environments whose principal job it is to bring people together, that’s a great thing to do socially but it’s also a great thing from the virus’s point of view.

“And therefore we do have to have a really clear and really disciplined approach to try and maintain social distancing whilst also enjoying pubs.”

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