Moves Times

New York Times moves staff out of Hong Kong amid press freedom fears – The Guardian

New national security laws prompt US media organisation to shift a third of its operation to South Korea

Hong Kong riot police hold up a warning flag during a protest against the new national security laws that have forced the New York Times to move some of its operations to South Korea.

Hong Kong riot police hold up a warning flag during a protest against the new national security laws that have forced the New York Times to move some of its operations to South Korea.
Photograph: Isaac Lawrence/AFP/Getty Images

The New York Times is moving part of its Hong Kong bureau to Seoul, amid growing concern about the impact of new national security laws on the freedom and safety of the press.

The US outlet will relocate its digital team – about one third of its current Hong Kong bureau – to the South Korean capital over the next year, it said. Correspondents and print production teams for the International New York Times, the paper’s European and Asian edition, will stay in Hong Kong.

Staff were informed of the move in a memo from editors and executives on Tuesday.

“China’s sweeping new national security law in Hong Kong has created a lot of uncertainty about what the new rules will mean to our operation and our journalism,” it said. “We feel it is prudent to make contingency plans and begin to diversify our editing staff around the region.”

A New York Times report on the relocation said some of its employees had struggled to secure work permits, which had rarely been an issue Hong Kong in the past.

“With the city facing a new era under tightened Chinese rule, Times editors determined they needed an additional base of operations in the region,” it said.

On 30 June, Beijing imposed sweeping national security laws on Hong Kong, bypassing the semi-autonomous region’s own legislature, that outlaw subversion, sedition, terrorism and collusion. However, the laws have been criticised as so broad and ill-defined that even the most benign acts supporting independence can be viewed as illegal.

The legality of journalistic practices in Hong Kong is also unclear, and inquiries to the Hong Kong government have drawn only warnings that the press will not be targeted as long as journalists abide by the new laws.

The editor of the Hong Kong Free Press, Tom Grundy, wrote in the Guardian on Tuesday the laws had been designed to have a chilling effect on media.

“The government will not give us straight answers to questions about the security law – and that is by design,” Grundy said. “Fuzziness is a feature, not a bug – the authorities want journalists to overcompensate, tip-toe around ill-defined red lines, and ultimately self-censor.”

Staff from the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, and the Washington Post were expelled from mainland China earlier this year, amid continuing diplomatic hostilities over foreign media based in the US and China.

“Hong Kong has been a leader in supporting the rights of a free press in Asia for decades, and it is essential that it continues to do so,” New York Times spokeswoman, Ari Isaacman Bevacqua, said.

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Mississippi Moves

Mississippi moves to strip Confederate emblem from state flag – BBC News

The Mississippi State Capitol dome is visible in the distance as the flag of the state of Mississippi flies

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Getty Images

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Mississippi is the last state in the US to feature the Confederate emblem on its flag

Politicians in the US state of Mississippi have taken a major step towards removing the Confederate emblem from the state flag.

On Saturday, both chambers of the Republican-led state congress voted to begin the process of changing the flag.

Mississippi is the last state in the US to feature the emblem on its flag.

The Confederate emblem is viewed by many as a racist symbol, with recent protests over the death of George Floyd reigniting debate over its use.

The flag was originally used by the slave-owning states who lost the US Civil War (1861-65).

The vote passed in both chambers of the Mississippi legislature: in the House of Representatives by a margin of 84-35, and then in the Senate by 36-14.

It means a bill to change the state flag can now be formally introduced. It is expected to be proposed on Sunday when the state congress is back in session, US media report.

A two-thirds majority was needed to begin the process. This was viewed as the biggest test because only a simple majority is needed to pass the final bill.

And in a major boost to the movement for change, Republican Governor Tate Reeves said that he would sign a bill to do so if it was approved in congress.

He had previously said that he would not veto a bill, but did not publicly back it.

“The argument over the 1894 flag has become as divisive as the flag itself and it’s time to end it,” he wrote on Twitter.

He added: “We should not be under any illusion that a vote in the Capitol is the end of what must be done – the job before us is to bring the state together.”

“I would never have thought that I would see the flag come down in my lifetime,” Democrat Barbara Blackmon, who is African-American, said on Saturday.

If the bill passes, a commission will design a new flag, to be be voted on in November.

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Media captionFour numbers that explain impact of George Floyd

Hundreds of statues dedicated to the Confederacy – the southern states which revolted against the US government – exist all throughout the US, and often serve as an reminder of the history of slavery and racial oppression in the US.

But the depth of feeling that followed the death of George Floyd has led to renewed demands for an end to institutional racism. In the US and other countries statues of controversial historical figures have either been pulled down or taken down.

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Moves State

New York State Moves Swiftly On Police Reform Bills – NPR

New York Sate Assemblywoman Diana C. Richardson, D-Brooklyn, speaks in favor of new legislation for Police Reform during a Assembly session at the state Capitol Monday, June 8, 2020, in Albany, N.Y.

Hans Pennink/AP

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New York Sate Assemblywoman Diana C. Richardson, D-Brooklyn, speaks in favor of new legislation for Police Reform during a Assembly session at the state Capitol Monday, June 8, 2020, in Albany, N.Y.

Hans Pennink/AP

New York’s legislature moved swiftly Monday to pass a first wave of police reform legislation, including a ban on chokeholds, a prohibition on race-based profiling, and a measure requiring police departments and courts to track arrests by race and ethnicity to help identify patterns of bias.

The session followed a historic wave of protests sparked by the death of George Floyd in police custody in Minneapolis. The protests evolved into a referendum on police brutality.

New York state, where marches drew thousands of people into the streets, has a troubled history of violence by police officers against unarmed black and Hispanic men.

State Sen. Luis Sepulveda told lawmakers police tactics have led to the death and “utter humiliation” of many people of color.

“I can speak from personal experience. When I was 18 years old, I was arrested because a police officer didn’t like the way I looked at him,” Sepulveda said.

The ban on chokeholds – which passed unanimously with bipartisan support – was named in honor of Eric Garner, a black man who was confronted by police for selling loose cigarettes in 2014. Garner died after a New York City police officer put him in a chokehold. Garner’s dying words, “I can’t breathe,” were captured on cell phone video and became a rallying cry for the Black Lives Matter movement nationwide.

The police officer in that case, Daniel Pantaleo, facing likely dismissal eventually resigned from the force, but a grand jury declined to indict him. Last year, the Trump administration’s Justice Department declined to bring civil rights charges in the case.

“We unfortunately have not been providing safety for African Americans in this country,” said Democratic state Sen. Brian Benjamin. “What this bill does is say, ‘You know what? We’re going to try to move closer to a system where everyone feels safe in this country.'”

Law enforcement organizations in New York tried to push back against these reforms. The head of the New York State Sheriffs’ Association, Jeffrey Murphy, issued a statement rejecting the idea that systemic racism exists in law enforcement, calling the accusation “disgusting.”

The powerful New York City Police Benevolent Association called the measures “an attack on law enforcement.” But in stunning political development, police saw many of their Republican allies vote with the Democratic majority.

During floor debate Monday, Republican Sen. Fred Akshar, who worked in law enforcement before being elected, said he had intended to vote against the chokehold ban.

He switched sides after being assured that police who use chokeholds in acts of self-defense wouldn’t face charges.

Today’s rapid-fire votes reflect another profound shift in Albany. Many of the measures being approved had languished for years because they were essentially dead on arrival when they reached the GOP-controlled senate. But Democrats won control of that chamber in the 2018 election. The Assembly and Senate are now led for the first time in history by African American lawmakers, who control the agenda. They seized on the momentum generated by days of street protests to move these reform bills.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo, also a Democrat, promised Monday he would sign the measures when they reach his desk. Lawmakers are expected to take up a second package of reforms on Tuesday, including repeal of a law which kept police disciplinary records confidential.

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Jong-un Moves

Kim Jong-un Moves to Increase North Korea’s Nuclear Strength – The New York Times

After another weekslong absence from public view, Mr. Kim convened his top military body to promote top aides specializing in nuclear and missile forces.

Credit…Korean Central News Agency

Choe Sang-Hun

SEOUL, South Korea — After another weekslong absence from public view, North Korea’s leader, Kim Jong-un, has convened the country’s top military-governing body, outlining “new policies for further increasing” its nuclear capabilities and promoting top weapons officials, the North’s state-run media said on Sunday.

Mr. Kim’s attendance at the meeting was his first public activity reported by the North Korean media in three weeks. A weekslong absence from public view last month prompted rumors that he might have health issues or other trouble, and the repeat this month sparked similar rumors.

During the meeting of the Central Military Commission of the ruling Workers’ Party of Korea, Mr. Kim was said to have promoted Ri Pyong-chol to vice chairman of the commission, expanding his influence. Mr. Ri has been in charge of building nuclear weapons and their delivery missiles.

Mr. Kim also promoted ​nearly 70 general officers, elevating Pak Jong-chon, a career ​military commander specializing in ​artillery and missile forces​, to vice marshal, only a year after he was made a four-star general and chief of the North Korean army’s general staff. ​

​Both Mr. Ri and Mr. Pak ​were among North Korean officials whose roles appeared to expand under Mr. Kim’s government as he refocused on expanding his country’s nuclear and missile capabilities​ following the collapse of his diplomacy with President Trump​.

“Set forth at the meeting were new policies for further increasing the nuclear war deterrence of the country and putting the strategic armed forces on a high alert operation,” the North’s official Korean Central News Agency reported ​on Sunday. “Taken at the meeting were crucial measures for considerably increasing the firepower strike ability of the artillery pieces of the Korean People’s Army.”

The news agency did not say when the meeting took place, although it usually reports Mr. Kim’s public activities a day after they happen. Nor did it clarify what Mr. Kim’s new policies on his nuclear weapons might be.

Since taking over his country following the death of his father and predecessor, Kim Jong-il, in 2011, Mr. Kim has accelerated his country’s nuclear weapons and missile programs. North Korea has conducted the last four of its six underground nuclear tests under his rule. It also flight-tested three intercontinental ballistic missile tests in 2017.

Mr. Kim ​then ​switched to diplomacy, ​meeting Mr. Trump in Singapore in June 2018 and again in Hanoi, Vietnam, in February last year. But their meetings failed to reach an agreement ​on ​how to eliminate North Korea’s nuclear weapons programs ​or when to ease United Nations sanctions against the North.

​In May last year, North Korea broke an 18-month hiatus in weapons tests, conducting 18 tests of mostly short-range ballistic missiles and rockets since. In December, it conducted two ground tests at its missile-engine test site to bolster what it called its “nuclear deterrent.” Mr. Pak at the time said that the data from the tests would help develop “another strategic weapon.”

In December, Mr. Kim said that ​his country no longer felt bound by its self-imposed moratorium on nuclear and long-range missile tests​, and threatened to unveil a new strategic weapon.

Mr. Kim’s weekslong absence from public view last month inspired speculation that he might be brain-dead or otherwise incapacitated. He dispelled such rumors by visiting a fertilizer factory on ​May 1. The military commission meeting was his first reported public activity since then.

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