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  • The Latest: Iran imposes sanctions on US think tank

    The Latest: Iran imposes sanctions on US think tankIran's Foreign Ministry says it has imposed sanctions on the Washington-based Foundation for Defense of Democracies and its CEO for its role in promoting sanctions and "economic terrorism" against Iran. A Saturday report by Iranian media, including the semi-official Fars news agency, quoted a statement by Iran's Foreign Ministry as saying the foundation and its CEO Mark Dubowitz "intentionally" damaged vital interests of Iran through spreading lies and negative campaigning against Iran.


    August 24, 2019 11:43 AM MDT
  • UK Hong Kong consulate worker Simon Cheng freed after detention in mainland China

    UK Hong Kong consulate worker Simon Cheng freed after detention in mainland ChinaA British consulate employee in Hong Kong has been freed by China after being detained for 15 days on the mainland amid rising tensions between the former British colony and Beijing. Simon Cheng, 28, a trade and investment officer at the Hong Kong consulate’s Scottish Development International section, went missing on August 8 on his way back from a work trip in Shenzhen, a neighbouring Chinese city.  It was not until after the UK expressed “extreme concern” about his disappearance that China’s foreign ministry broke its silence, confirming Mr Cheng had been detained without releasing further details.  On Saturday, his family announced that he had come back. "Simon has returned to Hong Kong; thanks you everyone for your support! Simon and his family wish to have some time to rest and recover, and will not take any interview,” they said in a statement.   An activist holds an illustration of Simon Cheng during a gathering outside the British Consulate-General building in Hong Kong  Credit: AFP Chinese police in Shenzhen confirmed that Mr Cheng had been detained for violating public security management regulations, and was released after that period on Saturday.  Police also said he had “confessed to the facts of his illegal activity,” without saying what those activities were. Mr Cheng was not formally charged or tried in court, and his family rejected allegations in Chinese state media that he had been detained for visiting prostitutes.  On Friday the UK issued a warning to all travellers to Hong Kong about increased scrutiny from mainland authorities at border crossings. The warning added that mobile phones and electronic devices were being checked by border patrol. Mr Cheng’s mysterious disappearance highlights China’s murky legal and judicial system – something that help kicked off mass protests early June in Hong Kong. Many fear freedoms enjoyed in Hong Kong, guaranteed for at least 50 years under an agreement that became effective when the former British colony was returned to Beijing, are fast-disappearing under China’s ruling Communist Party.  Hong Kong crisis | Comment and analysis Millions first took to the streets against a now-suspended extradition proposal that would have sent people to face trial in mainland China, where Communist Party control of the courts contributes to a 99.9 per cent conviction rate. Forced confessions are also common with suspects paraded on state television. “What happened to Simong Cheng – this is a common tactic used by the central government to put pressure on people,” said Kammy Yang, 50, an office clerk at a protest on Saturday. “Many Chinese activists were accused of prostitution or tax scams; this is their strategy in China, trying to suppress freedom.” Thousands of protesters on Saturday engaged in a series of skirmishes, throwing projectiles from bricks to petrol bombs at police who responded with sprays of tear gas and rubber bullets. It was the first time tear gas had been deployed in 10 days, a period of relative calm as protesters recalibrated their approach in an otherwise tumultuous, violent summer.  Demonstrators join hands to form a human chain during the Hong Kong Way event in the Central district of Hong Kong, China, on Friday Credit: Bloomberg “The reasons why protesters are building roadblocks, surrounding police stations, and throwing bricks – it’s because the government doesn’t respond to us,” said Vaso Chan, 28, an office clerk. “It’s not fun for any of us to come out during summer break.” Protesters spray painted slogans like “Give me liberty or death,” Chinazi,” and “HK popo Gestapo,” on sidewalks and highways. As the political movement has grown, so have protesters’ demands, who are now calling for an independent inquiry into police handling of the protests, the resignation of Hong Kong chief executive Carrie Lam, and direct leadership elections.  City leaders however have made no concessions, instead thrusting the police to the front lines to handle the situation, further angering protesters.  Demonstrations are occurring nearly every day now in the financial hub, disrupting traffic and public transportation. On Saturday, several stations closed along a planned march route. But despite growing unrest, public support for the protesters has stayed strong, with marches and strikes planned through September. “No matter whether those protesters are peaceful protesters or protesters that are standing in the ‘front lines’, no matter what they do, we will support them,” said Mr Chan.


    August 24, 2019 8:15 AM MDT
  • South Korea begins annual war games to defend against Japan

    South Korea begins annual war games to defend against JapanSouth Korea Sunday began two days of war games to practise defending disputed islands off its east coast against an unlikely attack from Japan, further stoking tensions between the Asian neighbours. The annual drills come just days after Seoul terminated a military intelligence-sharing pact with Tokyo, with the countries at loggerheads over Japan's use of forced labour during World War II. The two-day exercise will involve warships and aircraft, the South Korean navy said in a text message without providing more detail.


    August 24, 2019 8:16 PM MDT
  • CNN’s Brian Stelter: ‘We Can't Tiptoe’ Around Trump’s Mental Instability ‘Anymore’

    CNN’s Brian Stelter: ‘We Can't Tiptoe’ Around Trump’s Mental Instability ‘Anymore’CNN senior media correspondent Brian Stelter called on media outlets to focus more coverage on what he feels is President Trump’s obvious mental instability, saying Sunday morning that it is an issue we can no longer “tiptoe around.”“He’s getting worse,” Stelter said at the top of his weekend show focussing on the media CNN’s Reliable Sources. “We can see it. It’s happening in public but it’s still a very hard, very sensitive story to cover. I’m talking of course about President Trump, about his behavior, about his instability.”Noting that several prominent conservative figures—notably, White House counselor Kellyanne Conway’s husband—are pleading with the press and Republicans to take the president’s erratic behavior more seriously, the CNN host then ticked off a list of the president’s comments and actions that have raised eyebrows.“Look, all of these stories are covered in the moment, individually, by reporters,” Stelter said. “News outlets use words like erratic, volatile, unstable but rarely are Trump’s words and actions covered as a whole and rarely do news outlets take it to that next level. Okay, what he just said seems crazy—what does that reveal about him? We rarely see it go to that next step.”Pointing out that Trump will always have a chorus of supporters backing him up and defending him, the CNN media analyst added that Trump’s “Fox fans pretend the worst episodes didn’t happen at all or blame the media for bad coverage.”While Stelter went on to credit CNN and MSNBC for doing a decent job of showing the “ugly reality” with their on-screen graphics, he also stated that there is not “really a vocabulary” or a “format” for covering concerns about a president’s mental well-being. “It’s really a series of questions that no one is able to answer,” he declared. “Why does he make it all about himself even after visiting a hospital after a massacre? Why does he lie so often? Is there a method to the madness or is something wrong? Is he suffering from some sort of illness? It’s questions, questions and then just more questions.”Prior to bringing on two psychiatrists to debate the ethics of media outlets openly discussing the president’s mental fitness, Stelter ended his monologue by noting “we can’t tiptoe around it anymore.”“We’ve got to talk about this,” he concluded. “So let’s talk about it. Let’s do it.”This isn’t the first time that Stelter has taken to the air to speculate about the president’s mental health. In Aug. 2017, the CNN personality wondered aloud why more journalists weren’t asking the “uncomfortable questions” about whether Trump was fit for office or “suffering from some kind of illness.” And in Jan. 2018, called on reporters to do “more reporting” on Trump’s possible mental instability. Read more at The Daily Beast.Get our top stories in your inbox every day. Sign up now!Daily Beast Membership: Beast Inside goes deeper on the stories that matter to you. Learn more.


    August 25, 2019 10:17 AM MDT
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