Voters in the Dominican Republic are set to defy rising coronavirus infections on Sunday to choose a new president in an election that could end 16 years of unbroken rule by the center-left Dominican Liberation Party. Opposition candidate Luis Abinader is favorite, having taken a commanding lead in opinion polls despite being forced to abandon his campaign after he tested positive for COVID-19. A Gallup poll gives Abinader, from the opposition Modern Revolutionary Party (PRM) more than 53 percent of voter intentions, 20 points ahead of the ruling PLD party's Gonzalo Castillo.
Australia's second most-populous state, Victoria, reported its biggest jump in coronavirus cases since late March on Saturday, forcing it to expand stay-at-home orders to two more suburbs and sending nine public housing towers in a complete lockdown. The southeastern state recorded 108 new cases on Saturday, up from 66 on Friday and more than 70 new cases in each of the previous four days, forcing authorities to reimpose lockdowns in more than 30 suburbs earlier in the week. "These numbers are a very real concern to all of us," Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews told a news conference.
US President Donald Trump bemoaned protests demanding racial justice as "violent mayhem" Friday, but said little about an alarming resurgence of coronavirus cases as he attended a crowded, fireworks-studded Independence Day celebration beneath majestic Mount Rushmore. Trump, under fire for his response to America's spiraling coronavirus caseload four months before the presidential election, spoke on the eve of the July 4th celebrations before thousands of closely-packed people -- many of whom chanted "Four more years;" few of whom were wearing masks. In the shadow of four notable predecessors -- George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt and Abraham Lincoln, whose likenesses are carved into a granite cliff in South Dakota's Black Hills -- the president called on supporters to defend America's "integrity".
Tokyo confirmed about 130 new cases of infections of the coronavirus on Saturday, a third consecutive day with more than 100 new cases, public broadcaster NHK reported. Cases in Tokyo have risen to a two-month high, driven by the spread of the virus in the capital's night spots. Tokyo on Friday reported 124 new cases, up from 107 the day before, partly due to increased testing among night life workers in the Shinjuku and Ikebukuro districts.
North Korea does not feel the need to have talks with the United States, which would be nothing more than "a political tool" for Washington, a senior North Korean diplomat said on Saturday, ahead of a U.S. envoy's visit to South Korea. Vice Foreign Minister Choe Son Hui said negotiations would not work out between Washington and Pyongyang and there will be no change in North Korea's policy. "We do not feel any need to sit face to face with the U.S., as it does not consider the DPRK-U.S. dialogue as nothing more than a tool for grappling its political crisis," Choe said in a statement carried by state-run KCNA news agency.
Senior officials in Hong Kong said on Saturday they were "very disappointed" at Canada's decision to suspend its extradition treaty with the Chinese-ruled city and again slammed Washington for "interfering" in its affairs. Beijing imposed a new national security law this week on the former British colony, despite protests from Hong Kong residents and Western nations, setting China's freest city and a major financial hub on a more authoritarian track. "The Canadian government needs to explain to the rule of law, and explain to the world, why it allows fugitives not to bear their legal responsibilities," Hong Kong's security chief, John Lee, told a radio programme on Saturday.
At least two people were feared dead and 13 others went missing in western Japan Saturday as record heavy rain triggered massive floods and landslides, forcing authorities to issue evacuation orders for more than 76,000 residents. The nation's weather agency downgraded rain warnings by one notch from the highest emergency level in Kumamoto and Kagoshima on Kyushu island, but Prime Minister Shinzo Abe urged local people to be "on maximum alert". Two people were found "in cardio-respiratory arrest" and another was missing in landslides in Kumamoto, said Naosaka Miyahara, a disaster management official for the prefecture, using a term often used in Japan before a doctor certifies death.
The girlfriend of President Donald Trump's eldest son has tested positive for coronavirus, US media reported Friday. Kimberly Guilfoyle, a former Fox News television personality who is dating Donald Trump Jr, had traveled to South Dakota to see the US president’s Fourth of July speech and celebration fireworks at Mount Rushmore. In a statement to the newspaper, Sergio Gor, chief of staff to the Trump campaign's finance committee, said: "She's doing well, and will be retested to ensure the diagnosis is correct since she's asymptomatic."
The US Navy is sending two aircraft carriers to the South China Sea for exercises just as Beijing conducts military drills of its own in the disputed region, according to a senior US military official quoted by The Wall Street Journal.The USS Ronald Reagan, the USS Nimitz and four other warships will hold large-scale exercises in the South China Sea starting on Saturday, according to the report, which cited Rear Admiral George Wikoff, commander of the operation. The exact location was not disclosed.“The purpose [of the planned exercises] is to show an unambiguous signal to our partners and allies that we are committed to regional security and stability,” Wikoff said, according to the report, which also said the operation would include “round-the-clock flights testing the striking ability of carrier-based aircraft”.Get the latest insights and analysis from our Global Impact newsletter on the big stories originating in China. US military bill with an eye on China passes House panel unanimouslyThe US Navy operation takes place at the same time as five days of drills by China’s military near the Paracel Islands, which started on Wednesday. It also comes amid heightened bilateral tensions over a number of issues, most recently the passage of national security legislation for Hong Kong by the National People’s Congress Standing Committee in Beijing.The Paracels are the subject of overlapping claims between China, which calls them the Xisha Islans, and Vietnam, where they are known as the Hoang Sa Islands.The Philippines’ Defence Secretary Delfin Lorenzana called China’s exercises “highly provocative”, while Vietnam’s foreign ministry said they were a violation of sovereignty that could harm Beijing’s relationship with Asean.The US Navy’s operation follows a warning from the US Department of Defence on Thursday that Beijing’s military exercises “are the latest in a long string of … actions [by China] to assert unlawful maritime claims and disadvantage its Southeast Asian neighbours in the South China Sea”.A statement from the defence department said China’s actions “stand in contrast to its pledge to not militarise the South China Sea and the United States' vision of a free and open Indo-Pacific region, in which all nations, large and small, are secure in their sovereignty, free from coercion, and able to pursue economic growth consistent with accepted international rules and norms”.Wikoff told The Wall Street Journal the US Navy exercise was not so much a response to the Chinese naval exercises as a more general reaction to Beijing’s rising military assertiveness.China notified the UN in December that Beijing had sovereign rights to all islands in the South China Sea, including the Paracels.In July 2016, a ruling by an international tribunal in The Hague determined China had no “historic rights” over the South China Sea and ruled that some of its reefs claimed by several countries could not legally be used as the basis for territorial claims. Beijing rejected the ruling and described it has having “no binding force”.Be the first to access our in-demand, all-new China Internet Report 2020 Pro Edition! Click here to qualify for a limited time only, 50% early bird discount and receive deep-dive analysis, trends and case studies across 10 critical sectors shaping the China internet and impacting tech around the world. You will also receive access to 6x webinars led by China tech's most influential C-suite executives. Offer Valid until July 6th 2020.More from South China Morning Post: * Asean can no longer afford to be subtle over the South China Sea * Could China’s unwanted FC-31 Gyrfalcon stealth fighter finally land a role in the navy? * US, Vietnam and Philippines accuse Beijing of ‘unlawful maritime claims’ with five-day drill in South China SeaThis article US and Chinese naval exercises overlap in South China Sea first appeared on South China Morning PostFor the latest news from the South China Morning Post download our mobile app. Copyright 2020.
Pubs in England reopen on Saturday for the first time since late March, bringing cheer to drinkers and the industry but fears of public disorder and fresh coronavirus cases. - Prime Minister Boris Johnson has called for the public to use common sense.
China and the United States have accused each other of stoking tension in the strategic waterway at a time of strained relations over everything from the new coronavirus to trade to Hong Kong. The USS Nimitz and USS Ronald Reagan were carrying out operations and exercises in the South China Sea "to support a free and open Indo-Pacific," the navy said in a statement. It did not say exactly where the exercises were being conducted in the South China Sea, which extends for some 1,500 km (900 miles) and 90% of which is claimed by China despite the protests of its neighbours.
Mexico on Friday reported 6,740 new coronavirus infections, taking the country's total to 245,251 cases, more than Italy and the ninth-highest tally worldwide, according to a Reuters count. Mexico's health ministry also reported 654 more fatalities, bringing the total to 29,843 deaths, just a few behind France which currently has the fifth-highest death toll. Friday's new cases were just one less than the record number reported on Thursday in Mexico.
England takes its biggest steps yet towards resumption of normal life on Saturday as people are finally allowed to drink in a pub, get a haircut or have a meal in a restaurant for the first time in over three months. Prime Minister Boris Johnson said everybody had to behave responsibly and maintain social distancing to support businesses and not risk a second wave of the coronavirus.
Local authorities are digging mass graves at cemeteries across Bolivia to receive a new wave of victims from COVID-19, unnerving Bolivians as the outbreak rips across the Andean nation. Bolivia has registered 35,500 cases of the virus and 1,200 deaths. Raquel Loaiza, a representative of the region´s funeral homes, said residents dying of natural causes had been buried but those who died of COVID-19 were in limbo.
A source familiar with Maxwell's case said she is being held at the Merrimack County Jail, a medium-security facility 20 miles from the luxurious home where she was arrested Thursday. Federal prosecutors in Manhattan have accused Maxwell, 58, of luring underage girls so that Epstein could sexually abuse them. Epstein was awaiting trial on federal charges of trafficking minors between 2002 and 2005 when he was found hanged in a New York City jail in August.
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is facing his third conflict of interest probe, after Canada's ethics commissioner on Friday launched an inquiry into a government contract awarded to a charity that Trudeau has family ties to. Ethics commissioner Mario Dion's office said it will look into whether in picking WE Charity Canada to administer a C$900 million ($664.5 million) student grant program Trudeau broke rules that prohibit politicians from making, or participating in, decisions that further their personal interests.
Three Colorado police officers were fired and a fourth resigned after they shared photographs they took of themselves re-enacting a chokehold officers used to subdue a Black man who later died, authorities said on Friday. Vanessa Wilson, interim chief of police in the Denver suburb of Aurora, called the officers' actions surrounding the death of Elijah McClain, who was unarmed, "reprehensible." The officers who were terminated were named as Jason Rosenblatt, Erica Marrero and Kyle Dittrich.
Portugal's tourism sector reacted with fury and disbelief at Britain's decision to maintain a quarantine regime for travellers coming from Portugal despite having a higher number of coronavirus cases and deaths. Portugal was left off a list of more than 50 countries that Britain considers safe enough for travel without coronavirus-related restrictions, meaning holidaymakers returning from Portugal would have to quarantine for 14 days. Over a dozen countries have imposed restrictions on travel from Portugal as a doggedly high toll of several hundred new cases per day concentrated on the outskirts of Lisbon in the past month has worried authorities.
Former Hong Kong Observatory director Lam Chiu-ying has never forgotten how alarm bells rang out when the weather forecast agency wanted to buy a state-of-the-art supercomputer from the United States in 1999.The CRAY SV1 would be the fastest supercomputer the city had ever seen, with dual-use technology capable of not only predicting the weather but also designing nuclear weapons, according to a Wall Street Journal report at the time.A group of US congressmen even tried to block the sale, happening barely two years after the British had returned Hong Kong to China.Get the latest insights and analysis from our Global Impact newsletter on the big stories originating in China.“Everybody panicked,” recalled Lam, who was then assistant director. “It was the first time after the handover that the city wanted to buy near-military grade technology.“We needed an export licence from the US government and the Hong Kong government was very eager to help us. The financial secretary’s office even called to ask how they could help.” Hong Kong national security law: What is it about? Read the full textThe city’s administration regarded the Observatory’s HK$10 million (US$1.3 million at the time) purchase as a test case of the “one country, two systems” principle, under which Beijing guaranteed the city would preserve its distinct political and socio-economic systems for 50 years.“It was also a very symbolic move to show Hongkongers that nothing had changed after the handover,” said Lam, who was director of the Observatory from 2003 to 2006.In more recent years, the weather agency has had no trouble buying from America. It said it bought four high-performance computers from the US over the past 10 years without needing an export licence.This may change soon. The US said on Monday that it intended restricting exports of dual-use technology to Hong Kong, in response to Beijing passing the controversial national security law for the city.“We can no longer distinguish between the export of controlled items to Hong Kong or to mainland China,” US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said.We can no longer distinguish between the export of controlled items to Hong Kong or to mainland ChinaUS Secretary of State Mike PompeoThe restrictions mean the city would be subject to the same controls as Beijing if it tried to import sensitive dual-use technology or military equipment.That would likely mean more red tape, Lam said. “There will probably be more scrutiny or paperwork,” he added. US ends exports of defence equipment and restricts dual-use tech to Hong KongEven in 1999, there were hurdles to overcome before the Observatory got its supercomputer.“I had to answer questions from an official at the US Consulate General here,” he said. “The official asked what I would do if the People’s Liberation Army asked to use the computer. Of course, I responded I would not let them.”Despite the Observatory’s reassurances that the computer would be used only to improve weather forecasting, conservative US congressmen tried to block the sale after being spooked by a US government report which claimed that Hong Kong was being used as a transshipment hub for strategic goods.Thankfully, the manufacturer Cray was determined to proceed with the sale and Lam recalled that it hired lobbyists who helped prevent the congressmen’s bill from passing. Hong Kong’s getting hotter, as climate change makes its presence feltThe Observatory finally received the supercomputer in July 1999, but the sale came with conditions.It had to spend HK$1.2 million to build a high-security room to house the computer, which was the size of a few large refrigerators. It was surrounded by metal bars to prevent unauthorised use.Only six scientists were allowed into the room. “Even the director of the Observatory was not allowed in,” Lam recalled.The computer also had a live link to the US, so that everything done on it could be monitored by the Americans.These days, Lam said, the Observatory no longer needed to go to such lengths for the latest technology, as it was possible to link several weaker computers and achieve the same computing speed as a supercomputer. The agency had also bought one from China. National security law: US envoy to Hong Kong slams ‘terrible’ legislationThe Observatory is in the process of buying a new supercomputer through open tender. “Potential suppliers from different economies will be invited to submit tender proposals,” it said.Lam, who is now involved in climate change initiatives of the Sustainable Development Council, was not concerned that new US restrictions would affect the Observatory.“There will always be alternative sources,” he said.More from South China Morning Post: * National security law: US ends exports of defence equipment and restricts dual-use tech to Hong Kong * US weather supercomputer for six scientists' eyes only * US sanctions on tech sales doomed to failThis article US warning on sale of sensitive technology to Hong Kong a signal of hurdles, red tape ahead first appeared on South China Morning PostFor the latest news from the South China Morning Post download our mobile app. Copyright 2020.
Beijing's new national security law for Hong Kong 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 and will not stifle freedoms. - Legal firewall toppled - A key pillar of Hong Kong's success has been an independent judiciary, insulated from mainland China's party-controlled courts and their conviction rates of around 99 percent.
China is planning changes in its organ donation rules to tackle a shortage of donors and curb illicit harvesting after it stopped taking tissue from executed prisoners five years ago. The draft rules published Wednesday by the National Health Commission allow people to donate the organs of relatives who have died. China has been grappling with a massive dearth of donors after it ended the controversial practice of harvesting organs from executed prisoners in 2015.
Polish President Andrzej Duda suggested on Friday that Germany was trying to meddle in the presidential election after a German-owned tabloid newspaper reported on a pardon that he granted to a man who had served his sentence in a paedophilia case. Duda, a conservative who faces a neck-and-neck race against a centrist opponent in a presidential runoff election on July 12, was angered by reporting by the Polish tabloid Fakt. "Does Axel Springer, a company of German descent that owns the Fakt newspaper, want to influence the Polish presidential election?" Duda, an ally of the ruling Law and Justice party (PiS), said during a campaign rally in the western town of Boleslawiec.
Berlin's public transport company BVG said it would rename a city centre metro station that has become notorious for bearing a name based on a derogatory word for Black people. The announcement comes amid a worldwide reckoning with buried legacies of racism and colonial crimes underpinning many western societies that was sparked by the death in the United States of George Floyd, a Black man, at the hands of a police officer. Berlin's BVG said that the "Mohrenstrasse" metro station - literally Moor Street, using the medieval term for people from North Africa, would be renamed after another nearby street, the Glinkastrasse, named after 19th century Russian composer Mikhail Ivanovich Glinka.
President Vladimir Putin on Friday mocked the U.S. embassy in Moscow for flying a rainbow flag to celebrate LGBT rights, suggesting it reflected the sexual orientation of its staff. Putin said the U.S. embassy's move to raise the LGBT pride flag "revealed something about the people that work there".
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said he would set out how sectors of the economy which remain in a coronavirus lockdown - such as indoor gyms, swimming pools and nail bars - would be allowed to reopen. Johnson said his government would also set out how amateur cricket matches - a traditional feature of the English summertime - can start up again. England's Chief Medical Officer, Chris Whitty, provided a glimpse of what the new guidelines would look like."Providing people don't do things that are clearly not sensible, ranging from hugging the bowler if they've just bowled someone for a duck through to spitting on the ball, it should be possible," he said.