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US senators urge passage of Hong Kong democracy bill as violence in city rises

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US Senator Marco Rubio and Jim Risch, chairman of the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, initiated a "hotline" process for the Senate to pass their Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act on Thursday.The strategic procedure carried out by the upper chamber's leadership checks for last-minute opposition to an attempt to bring a bill immediately to the floor for a vote.If no senators voice opposition to side stepping a formal vote, the bill passes."The world witnesses the people of Hong Kong standing up every day to defend their long-cherished freedoms against an increasingly aggressive Beijing and Hong Kong government," Rubio said in a press release."Their cries have been met with violence, and young Hong Kong lives have tragically been lost."Now more than ever, the United States must send a clear message to Beijing that the free world stands with Hongkongers in their struggle," Rubio's release said."I thank leaders McConnell and Schumer for their support, as well as Chairman Risch, Ranking Member Menendez and Senator Cardin for their strong partnership on this legislation and look forward to its enactment."Rubio's comments came after China's state-run Xinhua news agency earlier on Thursday quoted Chinese President Xi Jinping as reiterating that Beijing supported the Hong Kong police's use of force to quell the "continuing radical violent crimes".US Senator Marco Rubio and Jim Risch, chairman of the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, launched a "hotline" process for the Senate to pass the Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act. Photo: AFP alt=US Senator Marco Rubio and Jim Risch, chairman of the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, launched a "hotline" process for the Senate to pass the Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act. Photo: AFPEarlier in the day, China's state-owned Global Times newspaper had published a post on its Twitter account asserting that Hong Kong authorities were preparing to announce the imposition of a weekend curfew. The tweet was later deleted."The world needs to see that the United States will stand up and tell the Chinese Communist Party that what they are doing to the people of Hong Kong is wrong," Risch said."After more than two decades of broken promises, it is time to hold the Chinese Communist Party accountable for its erosion of Hong Kong's autonomy. The US stands with the people of Hong Kong, and I look forward to continuing to work with Senate leadership and my colleagues across the aisle to move this bill swiftly."In 2007, Beijing said it would grant universal suffrage to the city in 2017, but that plan was scrapped when the Chinese capital said in 2014 that the candidates had to be chosen by a "nominating committee".Protesters attack the University MTR Station on the East Rail Line and a train carriage near Chinese University of Hong Kong in Sha Tin on Wednesday. Photo: Felix Wong alt=Protesters attack the University MTR Station on the East Rail Line and a train carriage near Chinese University of Hong Kong in Sha Tin on Wednesday. Photo: Felix WongHong Kong increasingly has become a battleground between police and protesters since June, when mass peaceful marches targeted a government proposal, since shelved, to allow the city's criminal ­suspects to be extradited to mainland China.Those protests have since morphed into a larger activism, with Hongkongers demanding the right to vote for their own city leaders.This week, the pro-democracy protests have taken a dark turn. On Wednesday, a 15-year-old boy was hit in the head by what appeared to be a tear-gas canister, according to the city Hospital Authority.A day earlier, a battle between police and protesters turned the a top university's campus into a combat zone.On Monday, a Hong Kong police officer shot a protester, while in a separate incident, protesters apparently set on fire a man who had expressed support for police outside an MTR station.US Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell echoed Rubio and Risch in a tweet on Thursday, urging the US government to act quickly to protect the protesters.""The Senate needs to stand with Hong Kong, and I hope we can take action soon"" McConnell said.""I was encouraged by a productive conversation with [Rubio on Wednesday] on legislation to further help the people of Hong Kong."The Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act would give the president a mandate to impose sanctions on foreigners determined to be responsible for the extrajudicial rendition to the mainland, arbitrary detention, torture, or forced confession of people in Hong Kong, as well as for other gross violations of human rights in the city.A poster at the Chinese University of Hong Kong in Sha Tin expresses support for the proposed US democracy bill amid a demonstration on Wednesday. Photo: Felix Wong alt=A poster at the Chinese University of Hong Kong in Sha Tin expresses support for the proposed US democracy bill amid a demonstration on Wednesday. Photo: Felix WongIn addition, the bill would task the Executive Branch to develop a strategy to protect American citizens and others in Hong Kong from rendition or abduction to China, and to report annually to Congress any violations of US export control laws and United Nations sanctions occurring in the city. ""Only international sanctions could impose some constraints on those who order to shoot and those who follow order to shoot. Senate needs to act as soon as possible on the Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act"" said Victoria Tin-bor Hui, a board member of Hong Kong Democracy Council (HKDC), a Washington-based pro-democracy non-profit organisation.Samuel Chu, an HKDC managing director, praised Rubio's effort to institute a hotline process that would speed up the bill's passage in the Senate."The quickest way for the Senate to move would be to seek unanimous consent using a hotline," he said."If the Hong Kong bill is hotlined, and that can be done as soon as today, I firmly believe that the full Senate will stand united for Hong Kong"""There is no time to waste, as every day we wake up to new images of a violent crackdown, increased bloodshed, mass arrests and suppressions on the streets, on university campuses, in private residences and even houses of worship"" Chu said.This article originally appeared in the South China Morning Post (SCMP), the most authoritative voice reporting on China and Asia for more than a century. For more SCMP stories, please explore the SCMP app or visit the SCMP's Facebook and Twitter pages. Copyright © 2019 South China Morning Post Publishers Ltd. All rights reserved. Copyright (c) 2019. South China Morning Post Publishers Ltd. All rights reserved.



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Dalai Lama: We Must Act As One to Preserve Our World

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This planet is our only home. Environmental experts say that over the next few decades, global warming will reach such a level that many water resources will go dry. So ecology and combatting global warming are very important.

For example, my country, Tibet, is the ultimate source of water in Asia. Rivers including Pakistan’s Indus, India’s Ganges and Brahmaputra, China’s Yellow River, as well as the Mekong, flow from Tibet’s plateau. So we should pay more attention to the preservation of Tibetan ecology. This is not only for the interest of 6 million Tibetans but all people in this region. In the past, when I was flying over Afghanistan, there were clear signs that what used to be lakes and streams were already dry. I feel that Tibet also may become like that soon. Regarding Tibet’s political matters, I have already retired. But regarding Tibet’s ecology and very rich culture, I’m fully committed.

We human beings have these marvelous, brilliant minds. But we are also the biggest troublemakers on the planet. Now we should utilize our brains with compassion, and a sense of concern. This is why one of my commitments is promotion of deeper human values.

From birth, we rely on others, particularly our mothers. From then, each individual’s existence entirely depends on a community, because we are a social animal. Community is the source of our happiness, so we must take care of the community. So now, in modern times, the concept of humanity is one community. East, west, north, south: everyone is interdependent. The modern economy has no national bound­aries. Therefore, now we need a sense of oneness of all 7 billion human beings. In the past, many problems were created because of too much emphasis on our differences, such as nationalities and religions. Now, in modern times, that thinking is out of date. We should think about humanity, about the whole world.

We must listen to scientists and specialists. Their voices and knowledge are very important. And religious people should pay more attention to scientists rather than just pray, pray, pray. In the ancient Nalanda Buddhist tradition, which we Tibetans follow, everything is investigated and not accepted by faith alone. If through reasoning we find some contradiction, even in Buddha’s own words, then we have the right to reject them. From childhood, I was always engaged in a lot of debate. Our thinking was based not in faith but reasoning.

Buddha himself was not born in a palace but under a tree. He attained enlightenment under a Bodhi tree. When he passed, it was under a tree. One of the rules during our monsoon retreat is that we should not cut down anything green. So this shows that Buddha himself paid attention to green issues.

Hours, minutes and seconds: time never stands still. We also are part of that nature. The past is important, but already past. The future is still in our hands, so we must think about ecology at the global level.

This essay is adapted from his recent TIME 100 Talk





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Downing Street advertises for £135k data science 'skunkworks' chief in latest Cummings shake-up

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Downing Street has placed an advert for £135,000 job to head up "skunkworks" in Number 10, in what appears the latest in Dominic Cummings' shakeup of Whitehall. The new job will be responsible for a new data science unit in Number 10, aimed to “transform” decision-making in government. A skunkworks is a term originating in America during WWII for a project developed by a small and loosely structured group focusing on radical innovation. The civil service advert says the role will involve leading a new "analytical unit known as ‘10ds" – which stands for "10 Data Science". It says: "The vision of 10ds is a skunkworks type organisation that builds innovative software to allow the PM to make data driven decisions and thereby transform government". Mr Cummings, the Prime Minister’s chief aide, is known for his disdain for traditional civil servants. He has said his focus after Brexit will be the establishment of a British version of the US’s Advanced Projects Research Agency (Arpa). He recently instructed government advisers to read a book on Superforecasting by Philip Tetlock, as well as High Output Management by Andrew Grove. While the salary for the new role is advertised as up to £135,000, "outstanding" candidates could get more. The advert says the “newly created role will be responsible for establishing No10's quantitative ability” as well as advising the Prime Minister. It says the job presents an opportunity to work "at the heart' of government. Applications close on July 27. Earlier this year Mr Cummings placed an advert for “data scientists, project managers, policy experts and assorted weirdos” to apply for Downing Street jobs. Mr Cummings used his personal blog to invite applications from “true wild cards, artists, people who never went to university and fought their way out of an appalling hell hole”. In a much-publicised post, he said: “If you want to figure out what characters around Putin might do, or how international criminal gangs might exploit holes in our border security, you don’t want more Oxbridge English graduates who chat about Lacan at dinner parties with TV producers and spread fake news about fake news.” Shortly after the blog advert was posted, a new Downing Street adviser Andrew Sabisky quit following reports of his controversial comments on pregnancies, eugenics and race.



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Philippines Lawmakers Vote to Shut Down Country’s Largest TV Network After Attacks From President Duterte

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(MANILA, Philippines) — Philippine lawmakers voted Friday to reject the license renewal of the country’s largest TV network, shutting down a major news provider that had been repeatedly threatened by the president over its critical coverage.

The House of Representatives committee on franchises, dominated by President Rodrigo Duterte’s political allies, voted 70-11 to reject a new 25-year franchise for ABS-CBN Corp. The National Telecommunications Commission had ordered the broadcaster to shut down in May after its old franchise expired. It halted broadcasting then, but the vote takes it off the air permanently.

Duterte and his allies had raised questions about the network’s compliance with the law and the terms of its franchise.

International media watchdogs condemned the closure of ABS-CBN, which was founded in 1953, as a major blow to press freedom.

Human Rights Watch said the lawmakers’ vote was “a grievous assault on press freedom in the country” and the greatest blow to media freedom caused by any government act since then dictator Ferdinand Marcos shut the broadcasting giant and other media outlets after declaring martial law in 1972.

“This move solidifies the tyranny of President Rodrigo Duterte, who accused ABS CBN of slights against him and politically targeted it for refusing to toe the government’s line and criticizing his so-called `war on drugs,’” said Phil Robertson, the deputy Asia director of the U.S.-based rights group.

Reflecting the extent of unease over the network’s shutdown, both the opposition and several key Duterte allies questioned efforts to close it. Concerns have also been raised by a diverse range of groups, including top business executives, left-wing activists and Catholic church officials.

ABS-CBN has more than 11,000 news and production personnel nationwide. Aside from reporting on the coronavirus, which has infected more than 50,000 people and killed 1,314 in the Philippines, it has provided food and medical aid to more than 2 million people, company officials said.

The network was last shuttered under the rule of Marcos and reopened after his 1986 ouster by an army-backed “people power” revolt.

Media watchdogs accuse Duterte and his government of muzzling independent media such as ABS-CBN that have reported critically on issues including his anti-drug crackdown, which has left thousands of mostly poor drug suspects dead. Duterte has accused the network of not airing his paid campaign ad and favoring a rival candidate in the 2016 election, allegations the company denied.

Presidential spokesman Harry Roque says Duterte took a neutral position on ABS-CBN’s franchise renewal and left it to Congress to decide.

But ahead of the franchise expiration, the government’s solicitor-general, Jose Calida, asked the Supreme Court in February to revoke the franchises of ABS-CBN and a subsidiary in a separate attempt to shut the company for allegedly abusing its franchises and violating a constitutional prohibition on foreign investment in Philippine media. ABS-CBN denied the allegations.





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