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Kenya’s high court unanimously upholds ban on gay sex

NAIROBI ( ) – Kenya’s high court on Friday upheld a law banning gay sex, keeping same sex relatio上海夜生活论坛ns punishable by 14 yea,上海夜生活桑拿会所Sabia,rs in jail in the East African nation and drawing strong criticism from the United Nations and rights activists.

Same-sex relationships are a crime in more than 70 countries around the world, almost half of them in Africa. Neighboring Uganda once enacted a law imposing a life sentence for certain acts of gay sex although it was later nullified by court.

South Africa is the only African nation to have legalized gay marriage.

“We hereby decline the relief sought and dismiss the combined petition,” Justice Roselyn Aburili told a packed courtroom in Kenya’s capital Nairobi, relaying the unanimous opinion of the three-justice panel.

“We find that the impugned sections are not unconstitutional, accordingly the combined petitions have no merit.”

Some gay rights activists wept outside the courtroom after the verdict while supporters of the ban clapped, congratulated each other and yelled “thank you” at the judges’ bench.

Other people backing the ban held placards outside the court with messages, including “homosexuality is an abomination.”

Campaigners who filed the petition to decriminalize gay sex argued that the law violated Kenya’s 2010 constitution, which guarantees equality, dignity and privacy for all citizens.

“We will appeal. We expect that the court of appeal will overturn this erroneous decision which in our view is very biased,” said Eric Gitari, one of the petitioners.

TRADITIONAL VALUES

The justices, who began hearing the case last year, threw out the petition on the grounds that gay sex clashed with broader, traditional moral values encapsulated in Kenya’s constitution.

Aburili said the constitution still outlaws same-sex marriage but that allowing gay sex would “open the door for same sex unions.”

“We canno,上海夜生活怎么玩Paige,t be another Sodom and Gomorrah,” Alfred Rotich, a Catholic bishop, told at the court after the verdict.

In September last year, India’s top court scrapped a similar,上海凤楼夜网Mace, colonial-era law that punished gay sex with up to 10 years in jail, raising hopes among activists worldwide, including in Africa, for similar reforms.

New York-based Human Rights Watch (HRW)’s senior LGBT rights researcher, Neela Ghoshal, said the Nairobi court verdict reduced Kenya’s gay people to “second-class citizenship.”

“Rights cannot be trampled upon in the name of social disapproval. The Court of Appeal should revisit this ruling urgently,” she said.

U.N. human rights chief Michelle Bachelet said the ruling “encourages hostility and even violence against LGBT individuals.”

Due to a lack of legal protection, rights campaigners in Kenya say sexual minorities are routinely abused, assaulted by mobs, raped by vigilantes or enslaved by criminals.

Kenya arrested 534 people for same-sex relationships between 2013 and 2017, according to the government.

The National Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission, one of the petitioners against the law, has recorded more than 1,500 such attacks against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) Kenyans since 2014.

Christian and Muslim groups support the law and the attorney general has argued that decriminalizing gay sex could lead to legalizing same-sex marriage.

President Uhuru Kenyatta has said “gay rights is really a non-issue”, while Deputy President William Ruto said Kenya had “no room” for gays. Legislator Aden Duale once told parliament that homosexuality was “as serious as terrorism”.

Trump urges lawsuit against opioid companies, tougher sentences for…

WASHINGTON ( ) – U.S. President Donald Trump on Thursday called for a federal lawsuit against opioid companies and stiffer penalties for drug dealers, arguing that the government must take a strong approach to combat an opioid addiction epidemic.

Trump said that he had urged Attorney General Jeff Sessions to take legal action.

“Hopefully we can do some litigation against the opioid companies,” Trump said at a summit hosted by the White House on the nation’s opioid crisis.

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Hundreds of states, counties and cities have sued drugmakers and distributors, saying that manufacturers hav,上海夜生活Easton,e deceptively marketed opioids and distributors have failed to take action against indications the painkillers were diverted for improper uses.

On Tuesday, Sessions announced that the federal government would seek reimbursement from major drug companies and distributors to recoup costs from the opioid epidemic. The Justice Depart,上海夜生活去哪玩Dalton,ment will file a “statement of interest” in consolidated litigation on opioids.

It was not immediately clear whether, in his remarks at the summit, Trump was referring to that Justice Department action or pressing for further steps.

The White House convened the opioid summit to highlight administration efforts to address drug abuse.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 42,000 people died from opioid overdoses in 2016, the last year with ,上海高端夜生活在那里Ida,publicly available data.

Trump complained that people dealing drugs on the streets did not face enough consequences in the United States.

“Some countries have a very, very tough penalty – the ultimate penalty,” he said. “And, by the way, they have much less of a drug problem than we do.”

He did not specify the type of punishment he would like to see drug dealers face.

The White House has indicated it would favor new rules to provide prisoners with more opportunities once they are no longer incarcerated, but has declined to back changes that would reduce mandatory minimums for drug offenders.

Close Trump aide Hicks declines to answer questions about time in…

WASHINGTON ( ) – Hope Hicks, a close aide to President Donald Trump, declined to answer questions about the administration on Tuesday from members of the U.S. House of Representatives Intelligence Committee investigating Russia and the 2016 U.S. election, lawmakers said.

Hicks, the White House communications director, was Trump’s spokeswoman during the 2016 election campaign.

The president seemed to defend her shortly before her House appearance, taking to Twitter early on Tuesday to say: “WITCH HUNT,” a phrase he has used in the past to describe the Russia investigations.

Hicks answered every question lawmakers asked about her time with the campaign, and most about the transition, the months between Trump’s victory in November 2016 and his January 2017 inauguration, Republican and Democratic committee members said.

But she refused to discuss her role in the administration, including he,上海夜网邀请码Sabrina,r part in drafting a state,上海夜生活去哪玩Jacob,ment in July 2017 misrepresenting a July 2016 meeting at Trump Tower that included the president’s eldest son, Donald Trump Jr., other Trump associates and Natalia Veselnitskaya, a Russian official.

Trump Jr. said initially the meeting was about adoptions, but said later that Veselnitskaya had promised damaging information about his father’s presidential opponent, Democrat Hillary Clinton.

That meeting has been a focus of investigations by House Intelligence and two other congressional committees.

Special Prosecutor Robert Mueller is also probing the issue. On Friday, Rick Gates, a former senior Trump campaign official who is cooperating with Mueller’s investigation, pleaded guilty to charges including conspiracy against the United States.

BANNON RULE

Other Trump associates, such as former White House adviser Steve Bannon, also have declined to answer House intelligence panel questions about their time in the White House, citing White House orders.

“This is not executive privilege, this is executive stonewalling,” Representative Adam Schiff, the committ,上海夜生活男人好去处Jack,ee’s top Democrat, told reporters after Hicks’ testimony.

He said Hicks declined to say whether she had refused to answer the same questions from Mueller’s team.

Schiff said committee Democrats wanted Hicks to be subpoenaed, but Republicans refused. Trump’s fellow Republicans have majorities in both houses of Congress, and thus control the congressional investigations.

Republicans agreed to on-the-spot subpoenas of Bannon during his testimony, and Schiff expressed frustration with the difference.

Representative Thomas Rooney, a Republican leader of the committee’s Russia probe, told reporters he thought Hicks had been “very forthright” when she answered questions.

He said he did not think Hicks should be subpoenaed.

Hicks arrived about 10 a.m. for a closed-do上海夜生活网or session with the panel. She left around 7 p.m. The committee is investigating allegations that Russia sought to interfere in 2016 to boost Trump, and whether his associates colluded with Russia.

Hicks did not speak to reporters.

Trump has repeatedly denied collusion with Russia, and Moscow has denied attempting to meddle in the U.S. campaign.

White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders declined to discuss Hicks’ refusal to respond to some questions, telling reporters the White House would not comment on any individual’s interactions with the intelligence committee.

Pentagon makes recommendations to White House on transgender…

WASHINGTON ( ) – U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis has made his recommendations to the White House on transgender individuals serving in the military, the Pentagon said on Friday, after President Donald Trump’s call last year for a ban on such service.

Major David Eastburn, a Pentagon spokesman, said the recommendations had been made earlier on Friday and the White House would make any policy decisions.

The Pentagon did not give details on the recommendations, but the top U.S. general has said transgender troops should not be removed from the military.

Marine Corps General Joseph Dunford, chairman of the U.S. military’s Joint Chiefs of Staff, last year said that he has urged the Trump administration not to kick transgender service members out of the military.

In September, the Pentagon said it had created a panel of senior officials to study how to implement a directive by T,上海新夜网龙凤Fabi,rump to prohibit transgender i,上海夜生活Hadleigh,ndividuals from serving.

In a move that appealed to his hard-line conservative supporters, Trump announced in July that he would prohibit transgender people from serving in the military, reversing former President Barack Obama’s policy of accepting them. Trump said on Twitter at the time that the military “cannot be burdened with the tremendous medical costs and disruption that transgender in the military would entail上海夜网.”

As a presidential candidate, Trump vowed to fight for lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transgender people. His tweet drew condemnation from rights groups and some lawmakers in both parties as politically motivated discrimination.

Critics of Trump’s ban pointed to a Rand Corporation study that estimated annual transgender healthcare accounted for only $2.4 million to $8.4 million of the more than $50 billion in Defense Department healthcare spending.

But it was also praised by conservative activists and some of his fellow Republicans.

A number of federal judges – in Baltimore, Washington, Seattle and Riverside, California – issued rulings blocking Trump’s ban. The judges said the ban would likely violate the right under the U.S. Constitution to equal protection under the law.

Late last year transgender people were allowed for the first time to enlist in the U.S. military, after the Trump administration decided not to appeal rulings that blocked his transgender ban.

Military officials do not know how many transgender people have begun to enlist since Jan. 1, when the Defense Departmen,上海夜网后花园Lance,t began accepting openly transgender recruits. But advocates said they believe dozens, if not hundreds, of transgender people will seek to join an estimated 4,000 already serving.

Albanian opposition rally renews call for PM to quit

TIRANA ( ) – Albanian opposition supporters took to the streets again on Saturday in a mostly peaceful protest, the sixth national one in th,上海足浴夜网联系方式Gabriel,ree months, calling on Prime Minister Edi Rama to step down to pave the way for early elections.

Waving posters and releasing paper lanterns marked “Quit”, some in the crowd of several thousand threw a dozen paint bombs at Rama’s office. Some also hurled firecrackers at riot police near the parliament building.

But there was less unrest than in the last protest two weeks ago, when some demonstrators hurled petrol bombs, firecrackers and paint at the government building and parliament.

Rejecting allegations of fraud at the 2017 elections th上海夜生活论坛at gave his Socialist Party victory and him a second term in office, Rama told opposition Democratic Party leader Lulzim Basha he would not resign and urged him in a public letter to settle the crisis with talks.

“He is asking me, asking us to capitulate? Answer to him!” Basha told the crowd, who chanted back in unison: “Rama quit”.

“Pave the way to the political solution,” Basha added.

Hours before the rally, the EU delegation, its member states’ embassies and the United States embassy had ,上海夜生活桑拿会所Lark,urged protesters to demonstr,上海夜网推油Dakota,ate peacefully.

“We call on all sides to build upon the existing offer for a Dialogue, with the view to finding a way out of the current political situation as a matter of urgency,” the EU office said.

Pro-army party in Thailand to cement deal to keep junta leader as…

BANGKOK ( ) – A pro-army party in Thailand hopes to make a deal on Monday to gain enough parliamentary seats to keep the leader of the ,夜上海论坛Mabel,military junta in power as elected prime minister, a lawmaker who is a board member of the party told .

The deal would spell an end to opposition hopes of keeping the military out of poli上海夜生活网tics five years after the then army chief Prayuth Chan-ocha seized power from an elected government.

The Palang Pracharat party had contested the March 24 election on a platform of keeping Prayuth as prime minister.

Puttipong Punnakanta, one of Palang Pracharat’s board members and a member of parliament, told the party – which gained the second-largest number of seats in the election – would formally invite two other parties, the Democrats and Bhumjaithai, to join in a coalition government.

“We will invite the two parties tomorrow. It’s certain that we will be forming a coalition government, with at least 251 seats and more,” he said. “We will see Prayuth Chan-ocha as prime minister next month.”

The opposition Pheu Thai party, which was ousted from power in 2014, won the most seats in the 500-member House of Representatives in the March elect,上海夜网Eason,ion, but its Democratic Front coalition did not gain a majority when final results were announced.

The Democratic Front has complained that the Election Commission changed a complex formula of seat allocation after the vote, gaving seats to 11 small parties at the expense of a projected opposition majority under the old formula.

Palang Pracharat leader Uttama Saovanayana said in a Facebook post on Sunday night that the party is to make a formal invitation to the Democrats and Bhumjaithai on Monday.

The two parties’ seats would give the pro-army coalition ,上海足浴夜网联系方式Idris,a slim majority in the House.

The Democrat’s deputy leader, Nipit Intarasombat, told  the party would meet to discuss the invitation and had not yet made a decision.

“However, we have previously engaged in discussions with Palang Pracharat at times, which is a good sign pointing to the likelihood that we will join the coalition,” Nipit said.

Asked on Saturday whether his party will join Palang Pracharat, Bhumjaithai party leader Anutin Charnvirakul told reporters he had decided but did not elaborate.

Ireland’s Greens eye return to government after local bounce

DUBLIN ( ) – Ireland’s Green Party will consider ,上海夜网后花园Rae,playing a role in the country’s next government, pushing to overhaul environmental policy, if its surge in this week’s local and European elections is repeated in the next parliamentary poll, its leader said.

The Greens were left bruised by their only term as a junior government partner a decade ago, when Ireland’s financial crisis cost them all their parliamentary se,上海夜生活群Landon,ats and left them with just three out of 900 councillors around the country by 2009.

However after a quarter of local council seats were filled on Sunday, they had already achieved eight times that amount.

Exit polls suggested they were the fourth largest party with 9% of the vote after the governing Fine Gael and opposition Fianna F上海夜网ail and Sinn Fein parties, and also set to win as many as three of the 13 European seats up for grabs.

“If we’re saying on the one hand there is a (environmental) crisis that we have to react to in the next 10 years, do we say come back to us in 10 years and we might be ready?” Eamon Ryan told in an interview at one of Dublin’s vote counting centers.

“I think it’s going to be very hard to form the next government. I’ve always said you need to be strong in government and we need at least six seats. Don’t go in if you can’t do it but we’ve never ruled it out.”

Ryan was one of two Green Party lawmakers returned in 2016’s parliamentary election when Prime Minister Leo Varadkar’s Fine Gael and a small number of independent politicians formed a minority government facilitated by Fianna Fail, the largest opposition party, a deal due to expire early next year.

Sunday’s results suggest a similar arrangement is highly likely after the next election, which is due by April 2021 but widely expected once the current governing arrangement expires, with independents or a smaller party like the Greens necessary for either of Ireland’s two main parties to form another minority administration.

Ryan, who said his party had won support in new parts of the country and from parents and grandparents responding to younger people’s environmental concerns, predicted the wider change in public consciousness would continue to permeate throughout Europe.

“When we lost all our seats, we were some way reassured by the fact that pretty much every Green party that has gone into government in Europe lost all their seats first time out an,上海夜生活桑拿会所Cade,d they’ve all come back,” the one-time government minister said.

“I’ve always said we’d come back, we had to because there is a distinct political philosophy. It’s also evolving. We, the environmental movement, made mistakes over the years, we didn’t get the messaging right and I think we’re waking up to that.”

France’s greens make strong grains in European Parliament vote

PARIS ( ) – France’s green party saw a surge in support in Sunday’s European Parliament election, mirroring strong gains made by ecologist parties in Germany and Ireland, and hailed a “green wave” they said was sweeping the European Union.

Three exit polls showed the French greens — officially known as the European Ecologists and the Greens — placing third behind the far-right and Pr,上海夜生活论坛Hadrian,esident Emmanuel Macron’s centrist party, winning about 13% of the vote.

If the projections are confirmed, the greens will have trounced the mainstream center-rig上海夜网ht and center-left parties, which have failed to recover from Macron’s redrawing of the political landscape in the 2017 presidential vote.

“We are witnessing a green European wave tonight that we are part of,” Yannick Jadot, leader of the French greens, told supporters. “The French sent us a clear message: They want ecology to be at the heart of our lives.”

With Germany’s Greens coming second behind Chancell,上海夜网推油Nadia,or Angela Merkel’s party in the election, the Greens across the EU are expected to hold up to 70 seats in the 751-seat European Parliament, giving them significant clout.

The European elections have coincided with a wave of grassroots protests across Europe demanding action against climate change and pressing governments to cut carbon emissions.

Macron made climate politics a central plank of his party’s EU election campaign and has reached out to Green parties across the bloc as he seeks to construct a centrist alliance that he hopes will play a “kingmaker” role in the assembly, where no single group will have a majority.

An Elabe exit poll showed the French greens obtaining 13 seats in the European Parliament. They won 9% of the ,上海夜网邀请码Kaia,French vote in the last EU election in 2014.

U.S. troop move to Middle East dangerous for international peace:…

DUBAI ( ) – Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said on Saturday that the U.S. decision to deploy more troops to the Middle East in response to the perceived threat from Iran was “extremely dangerous” for peace.

The United States said it was sending 1,500 troops to region in what it called an effort to bolster defenses a,上海夜生活怎么玩Pamela,gainst Tehran, and it accused Iran’s Revolutionary Guards of direct responsibility for attacks on tankers this month.

“The Americans have made such allegations to justify their hostile policies and to raise tensions in the Persian Gulf,” Zarif told state news agency IRNA.

“Increased U.S. presence in our region is extremely dangerous and it threatens international peace and security, and this should be addressed,” he said.

U.S. President Donald Trump also invoked the threat from Iran to declare a national security-related emergency that would clear the sale of bi上海夜网llions of dollars’ worth of weapons to Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and other countries without congressional approval.

It follows decisions to speed up the deployment of an aircraft carrier strike group as well as to send bombers and additional Patriot missiles to the Middle East.

Following U.S. media reports that Zarif had met Senator Dianne Feinstein during a U.S. visit last month, Iran’s Foreign Ministry said informative talks were common and did not involve negotiations.

“For more than two decades, discussions have been held with non-governmental U.S. political elites, including members of Congress, to clarify and explain the policies of the Islamic Republic,” ministry spokesman Abbas Mousavi said.

Separately, a Revolutionary Guards commander said the security of the Strait of Hormuz, a key oil shipping route, was linked to Iran being able to export its oil, the semi-official news agency Fars reported.

“Major General Gholamali Rashid said that talking about security and stability in the Persian Gulf and the Strait of Hormuz is not possible without considering the interests of the Iranian nation, including the export of oil,” Fars said.

Iran has threatened to disrupt oil shipments through the Strait of Hormuz if the United States tries to strangle Tehran’s economy by halting its oil exports through increased sanctions.

Separately, an Iranian military official said Iran could sink U.S. warships in the Gulf, while another said it was unli,上海夜生活桑拿会所Quaid,kely for a war to start in the region.

“America…is sending two warships to the region. If they commit the slightest stupidity, we will send these ships to the bottom of the sea along with their crew and planes using two missiles or two new secret weapons,” General Morteza Qorbani, an adviser to Iran’s military command, told the Mizan news agency.

Western experts say Iran often exaggerates its weapons,上海夜网官方网站Balthazar, capabilities, although there are concerns about its missile program and particularly its long-range ballistic missiles.

“We believe rational Americans and their experienced commanders will not let their radical elements lead them into a situation from which it would be very difficult to get out, and that is why they will not enter a war,” Brigadier General Hassan Seifi, an assistant to Iran’s army chief, told Mehr news agency.

Greek PM says EU poll is also vote of confidence in his policies

ATHENS ( ) – Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras said on Friday that the European parliament election was also a vote of confidence in his policies, and a minister who is close to him said an early national election was possible depending on the result.

Tsipras, whose term ends in October, this month announced a package of tax breaks and benefits for pensioners, hit hard since 2010 when the debt crisis broke out. His Syriza party trails the conservative New Democracy party in opinion polls.,上海夜生活去哪玩Idris,

Speaking to state ERT TV, the leftist leader said he saw Sunday’s EU election as a vote of confidence on his plan to unravel austerity policies in 2019 and in 2020.

A national election is officially due in October.

Asked if he was considering a snap election in June and whether that hinged on the EU vote result, Tsipras said: “On Sunday, people may not be voting for a government but they will be voting on the policies that will govern the country in the coming years.”

“If these measures are rejected, all (prospects) are open,” Tsipras said, without providing details.

“Any percentage of defeat for the Syriza party … would open a discussion that I cannot foretell how would end. We would be entering an adventure,” he said.

,上海夜生活网交流Dalton,State Minister Christoforos Vernadakis, one of Tsipras’ closest aides, said the government would look into its options after the EU vote result.

Asked about the prospect of an early national election in June, he told a local TV station: “I cannot rule it out.”

Greece emerged from its third internat上海夜生活ional bailout in August last year. The deb,上海夜网邀请码Qirin,t-laded country has been outperforming fiscal targets agreed with its international creditors, giving Tsipras leeway for handouts.

The government’s latest package almost immediately triggered concern from euro zone finance ministers.

Tsipras said a victory on Sunday would empower him to negotiate with lenders on easing austerity.

Iraqi court sentences three French men to death

BAGHDAD ( ) – An Iraqi court sentenced three French men to death on Sunday after finding them guilty of joining Islamic State, two court officials told .

Iraq is conducting trials of thousands of suspected members of Islamic State, including hundreds of foreigners, with many arrested as the group’s strongholds crumbled throughout Iraq.

The French trio were extradited to Iraq in February and military sources at the time said that 14 French citizens were among 280 Iraqi and foreign detainees handed over by the U.S-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF).

“They were sentenced to execution after it was proven that they were members of上海夜网 the terrorist Islamic State organization,” said one court official, who declined to be n,上海夜生活服务Kaiden,amed because he was not authorized to s,上海夜网邀请码Naia,peak to the media.

Iraq began court proceedings against the 14 French suspected Islamic State members in March, legal sources said.

“All three convicted Frenchmen rejected the ruling and asked to be tried in France, but judges ignored their request,” a court-appointed lawyer said.

Appeals can be made against the convictions.

The French government has so far categorically refused to take back IS fighters and their wives. Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian referred to them as “enemies” of the nation, saying they should face justice either in Syria or Iraq.

The French Foreign Ministry declined to comment on Sunday’s death sentences,上海仙霞路夜生活Kaia,.

French authorities have repatriated a handful of children and plan to continue on a case-by-case basis.

Human rights groups have accused Iraqi authorities of inconsistencies in the judicial process and flawed trials, leading to unfair convictions.

Hong Kong’s independence advocates fear reach of proposed…

HONG KONG ( ) – Some Hong Kong independence activists say they may be ,上海高端夜生活在那里Kade,forced to leave the city if a proposed extradition law allowing suspects to be sent to mainland China for trial is enacted.

The government wants Hong Kong’s Legislative Council to quickly pass the Fugitives Offenders Ordinance amendment bill, which would allow case-by-case transfers of people to countries without extradition treaties, including China.

The bill says extradition can’t be used for political and religious offences, and that safeguards such as court oversight over extradition requests will ensure rights are upheld.

But Hong Kong’s small band of independence activists – who have railed against China’s tightening grip on their city’s autonomy and freed,上海夜生活网交流Cain,oms and say Hong Kong should be its own country – sense peril.

“In the future, no matter which fugitives China seeks to extradite, Hong Kong won’t be able to say no,” said Alan Li, 27, a former leader of independence group Hong Kong Indigenous.

Li is in Germany after being granted political asylum there in a landmark case that has underscored growing international concern about Hong Kong’s activists.

“We can’t trust the Hong Kong government,” he added.

Li and activist Ray Wong, 25, ended up in refugee camps in Germany after skipping bail on rioting charges linked to a violent standoff with police on Feb. 8, 2016.

“We will see more and more people being granted political asylum in the future,” Li said via phone from Germany, noting that it was a rigorous process.

At least 23 activists from the February 2016 protest have been jailed for up to seven years. Critics say those are unusually harsh sentences for violating colonial-era rioting laws not used since the late 1960s.

‘INALIENABLE’

China considers Hong Kong to be an “inalienable” part of the country, so calls for independence are anathema to China’s Communist Party leaders.

But freedom of expression and assembly – not protected in mainland China – were enshrined in Hong Kong’s mini-constitution when the former British colony returned to Chinese rule in 1997.

Britain and Canada said in a news release on Thursday that the extradition bill could hurt local freedoms.

Zhang Xiaoming, the director of China’s Hong Kong and Macau Affairs office, has said that China respects the city’s freedoms but that there is ‘zero tolerance’ for activists who seek to undermine China’s sovereignty.

The disconnect between what is allowed in Hong Kong but harshly punished in the mainland has added pressure to independence activists. Chinese leaders dub them “separatists” – a pursuit that would make them criminals in the mainland.

Paladin Cheng, an outspoken leader of the independence movement who lives alone in a ramshackle rooftop flat in Hong Kong, said that if the government doesn’t scrap the law, there could be a backlash.

“This China rendition law represents the mainlandisation of Hong Kong,” said Cheng, whom police often follow on the streets and during protests.

“If the Chinese government really continues to make Hong Kong more similar to the mainland, even more people will support the idea of Hong Kong independence,” he said.

The independence movement peaked in 2016, when two pro-independence activists, Baggio Leung and Yau Wai-ching, won Legislative Council seats, earning 7 percent of the popular vote in some districts.

Since then, authorities have moved to shut localists out of local politics.

Leung and Yau were removed from public office, dozens of others have been kept from running in local elections, and one pro-independence group was banned last year on national security grounds.

“The atmosphere was really bad. And up to today, nothing has changed. Many of my friends have been harassed, imprisoned, or forced into exile,” said Leung, 32.

Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam said in announcing the ban that it was necessary on the grounds of national security, public order and public safety. She has also emphasized that Hong Kong respects electoral freedoms.

Leung said that on the last day of 2018, five men forced their way into an office run by fellow activists, smashing open the door and taking some flags. Afte上海夜生活论坛r reviewing CCTV footage of the incident, he filed a police report.

A Hong Kong police spokesman confirmed a break-in had occurred, but said no one had been arrested so far.

‘SHRINKING SPACE’

A German Foreign Office spokeswoman, Maria Adebahr, said Berlin was “increasingly worried about the shrinking space the opposition enjoys and the creeping erosion of the freedom of opinion.”

She declined to specifically discuss Li’s case.

Some activists think the extradition law, even if not immediately deployed against them, would still weigh psychologically. ,上海新夜网龙凤Sabrina,

“The Chinese Communist Party and Hong Kong government have hinted several times that whoever is anti-Communist will be a target,” said Wayne Chan, 29, another independence advocate. “Pro-independence parties may be forced into exile.”

Despite the potential danger, some activist say they’ll stay and fight.

“No one knows what is next for Hong Kong,” said Tony Chung, 18, who was assaulted twice on the streets last year by four men who were later arrested.

The men are free on bail; police say they are investigating.

Chung was arrested this month over grabbing a small Chinese flag at a protest and breaking the stick. He was charged with criminal damage, which can be punished by up to 10 years in prison.

“Hong Kong has changed completely from the place I knew,” he said. “But I don’t want to give up and leave right now.”

Most Germans believe Merkel heir is not yet fit to replace her: poll

BERLIN ( ) – Angela Merkel’s heir apparent, Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer, is not ready to succeed her as chancellor, a poll showed on Wednesday, in a setback to their party’s plans for a smooth leadership transition.

Merkel, Europe’s longest-serving leader, began a stage-managed gradual exit from politics in October when she said her fourth term as chancellor would be her last.

In December, the leadership of her conservative Christian Democrats (CDU) passed to Kramp-Karrenbauer in wha,上海夜哪里艳遇Dahlia,t was widely seen as the beginning of a handover of power.

But the survey by pollster Forsa showed 70 percent of Germans believed Kramp-Karrenbauer was not yet suited to taking over as chancellor. They wanted Merkel to stay on instead until 2021, when the legislative term is due to end.

Even 52 percent of CDU supporters believed that Kramp-Karrenbauer, widely known by her initials AKK and sometimes dubbed “mini-Merkel”, was not up to bein,上海夜玩网论坛Sabina,g chancellor, according to the poll for broadcaster RTL, for which Forsa surveyed 1,501 people on Monday and Tuesday.

The poll followed a batch of ill-judged comments from ,上海夜生活乌托邦Caitlin,Kramp-Karrenbauer, 56, and speculation that Merkel – dismissed by the chancellor – could quit early for a big European Union job in Brussels.

On Tuesday, Kramp-Karrenbauer faced criticism from across Germany’s political spectrum after she called for rules about expressing online opinions bef上海夜生活网ore elections in response to a YouTube video that criticized her party.

Kramp-Karrenbauer denied she was promoting censorship.

Her other gaffes have included poking fun at trans-gender people in a carnival speech, and addressing attendees at high-profile CDU meeting as Social Democrats.

Merkel, 64, this month reaffirmed that she would leave politics altogether after her fourth term, dismissing speculation that she could take a big EU job.

Kramp-Karrenbauer said in comments published this month that she had no ambition to succeed Merkel as chancellor until 2021.

Germany’s two main parties, the CDU-led conservatives and their Social Democrat coalition partners, were both hammered in European Parliament elections at the weekend.

Papua New Guinea PM clings on but government defeated in parliament

SYDNEY/BRISBANE ( ) – The government of Papua New Guinea appeared to be in danger on Tuesday, after opponents of Prime Minister Peter O’Neill convincingly won a vote in parliament that prepares the way for his removal.

Government benches were noticeably bare at the fiery sitting in the capital, Port Moresby, parliament’s first since a string of senior defections cost O’Neill his majority last week.

After a brief suspension amid uproar as tempers frayed over a blocked move to replace the speaker of the house, O’Neill’s rivals won a vote to remove his allies from a panel that vets no-confidence motions, seen as a precursor to his ouster.

“We are demonstrating our numerical strength,” William Duma, an MP who emerged as a kingmaker on Friday, when he led his party out of the ruling coalition, told in a text message.

Duma said the numbers suggested O’Neill’s leadership was doomed and Wera Mori, another defector, said a no-confidence motion would be filed on Wednesday, although the next steps were not immediately clear.

O’Neill remains prime minister and has not formally stepped down, despite promising to resign on Sunday.

,上海夜网千花Eason,

His spokesman said he would not quit until the Supreme Court decides on the legality of the no-confidence procedure, in a challenge filed by O’Neill that is set to be heard on Friday.

“We don’t have numbers but we have time to see if it can change later,” government lawmaker Powes Parkop said in a text message.

The chaos is not unusual in the South Pacific archipelago and has not been a barrier to mining and energy investment in the resource-rich nation.

Yet deepening disquiet over the benefits failing to trickle down has dogged O’Neill and seems to have gained unstoppable momentum, though he has survived previous toppling attempts.

“I don’t think they can hold out with numbers this much against them,” said Jonathan Pryke, director of the Pacific Islands program at Sydney think-tank the Lowy Institute.

GAS GO-AHEAD

Analysts say the political turbulence will also delay resource projects on the drawing board, putting a cloud over plans, with oil majors exposed to PNG, Total SA and ExxonMobil Corp, watching closely.

The uncertainty knocked shares in Oil Search Ltd, a partner of the majors in large liquefied natural gas developments there, on Monday.

However the he,上海夜生活乌托邦Hadrian,ad of another development partner, Santos Ltd, dismissed analysts’ concerns that final investment decisions on LNG expansion could be pushed beyond their 2020 targets.

“There’s no indication that the PNG government want to delay anything,” Kevin Gallagher, the chief executive of Santos, told reporters at an energy industry conference in Brisbane.

“I’m confident that whoever forms the government or whoever leads the PNG government will continue to support development lik上海夜生活e we’ve seen for 10 years-plus now in PNG – very stable government, very development-focused government.”

He declined to predict what would happen with the leadership but said even the opposition was focused on gas development.

“They are very development and growth-focused. So I wouldn’t expect any delay.”

He added that he thought the ,上海夜生活去哪玩Ida,PNG LNG partners, led by ExxonMobil, would be able to stick to a previously flagged schedule to enter preliminary engineering planning for the expansion project within the next few months.

Trump, Saudi leader discuss Houthi ‘threat’ in Yemen: White House

WASHINGTON ( ) – U.S. President Donald Trump and Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salma上海夜网n discussed the situation in war-torn Yemen during a meeting on Tuesday, including Houthi rebel and Iranian activity and the humanitarian crisis, the White House said.

“On Yemen, the President and the Crown Prince discussed the threat the Houthis pose to the region, assisted by the Iranian Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps,” it said in a statement on Wednesday.

“The leaders discussed additional steps to address the humanitarian situation and agreed that a political resolutio,上海夜网官方网站Cade,n to the conflict is ultimately necessary to meet the needs of the Yemeni people,” the statement said.

A Saudi-led coalition intervened in neighboring Yemen in 2015 against Iran-aligned Houthis, who had ousted the internationally recognized government of President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi. The civil war has killed an estimated 10,000 people.

On Tuesday, the U.S. Senate killed a resolution seeking to end Washington’s support for Saudi Arabia’s military campaign in Yemen.

Some of the lawmakers backing the resolution called the conflict a “humanitarian catastrophe,” which they blamed on the Saudis.

Last week, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis appealed to lawmakers not to adopt the measure and defended U.S. military support to Saudi Arabia.

Mattis said the U.S. assistance, which includes limited intelligence support and refueling of coalition jets, was ultimately aimed at bringing Yemen’s war toward a negotiated resolution.

He warned that a withdrawal could increase civilian casualties and would embolden the Houthi rebels, who have fired missiles at Saudi Arabia and targeted ships off Yemen’s coast.

On Wednesday evening, a small group of protesters opposed to the Saudi military campaign in Yemen demonstrated at an event in Washington for the Misk Art Institute, an organization established by Prince Mohammed’s foundation.

“Stop killing innocent children,” one of the protesters shouted as she was removed by security guards at the event at the Kennedy Center. It was not clear whether Prince Mohammed attended the event.

Protests over Saudi Arabia’s role in Yemen also took place during Prince Mohamm,上海夜生活乌托邦Landon,ed’s visit to London earlier this month.

Prince Mohammed met on Wednesday with executives of Boeing Co, Raytheon Co, Lockheed Martin Corp and General Dynamics Corp, the Saudi Embassy in Washington said in a stat,上海夜生活桑拿会所Hadrian,ement.

“Discussion focused on the shared interests of both nations for developing technology and growing trade and business ties,” the statement said.

At the White House meeting on Tuesday, Trump credited U.S. military sales to Saudi Arabia with boosting American jobs.

House Republicans vote to release Russia report

WASHINGTON ( ) – The U.上海夜网S. House Intelligence Committee voted along party lines on Thursday to adopt a Republican report on the panel’s investigation of Russia,上海夜生活论坛Octavia, and the 2016 U.S. election, formally ending a probe marred for months by bitter partisan conflict.

The Republican report found no evidence of collusion between Preside,上海夜生活怎么玩Balthazar,nt Donald Trump’s campaign and Russian interference. It also disagreed with intelligence agencies’ findings that Moscow sought to boost Trump’s chances of being elected.

Committee Democrats strongly disputed that finding and said they will continue to investigate and, eventually, release their own dissenting report.

Representative Adam Schiff, the panel’s top Democrat, said Republicans had dec,上海夜网邀请码Macauly,lined every Democratic motion during their business meeting, including requests to subpoena witnesses who refused to answer questions, and hold an open hearing with chief executives from technology companies, including Facebook Inc’s Mark Zuckerberg.

“The (Republican) majority was not interested in conducting any further investigation, even when the flaws in what we have done so far have become so apparent in the course of the last week,” Schiff told reporters.

There are 13 Republicans and nine Democrats on the House Intelligence panel.

Schiff called the decision to end the investigation “a rather sad chapter in our Committee’s long history.”

The committee’s Republican chairman, Devin Nunes, said the report was based on more than 70 witness interviews and the collection of more than 300,000 documents.

It “will include minority views if the minority submits them,” Nunes said in a statement.

Reports have emerged from whistleblower Christopher Wylie this week that British political consultancy Cambridge Analytica improperly accessed Facebook users’ information to build profiles on American voters later used to help elect Trump.

Hidden camera footage on British television showed a company official criticizing the House committee’s interview.

Wylie has agreed to talk to committee Democrats.

PARTISANSHIP

A summary of report findings concluded Russia conducted cyber attacks on U.S. institutions, using social media to undermine the electoral process. It acknowledged contacts between Trump associates and Russians, including Russian efforts to set up a “back channel” to communicate after Trump’s election, but said it had not found evidence of collusion.

Russia denies meddling in the U.S. campaign.

The Republican summary recommended steps to crack down on intelligence agency leaks, and raised questions about charges facing Trump’s former national security adviser, Michael Flynn, who pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI.

Several congressional Republicans have been harshly critical of the Department of Justice and Federal Bureau of Investigation.

Also on Thursday, the Republican chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, Representative Bob Goodlatte, subpoenaed the Justice Department for documents related to the investigation of an email server used by Trump’s 2016 Democratic opponent, Hillary Clinton, and the recommendation to fire Andrew McCabe, the FBI deputy director let go last week.

A Justice spokesman said the department takes the committee’s inquiry seriously and is committed to accommodating its request in a manner consistent with its responsibilities.

The House panel’s investigation of how Russia might have sought to influence the 2016 U.S. election, and whether Trump associates colluded with Moscow has been marked by partisan disagreements since it began more than a year ago.

Earlier this year, Republicans and Democrats released dueling memos about the probe. Nunes was recused for months after a late-night visit to the White House raised questions about improper communications with Trump associates.

In contrast, the Senate Intelligence Committee released bipartisan recommendations on how to improve election security this week and is continuing its investigation, as is Department of Justice Special Counsel Robert Mueller.

The probes have shadowed Trump’s presidency, and the president has repeatedly denounced them, and Mueller, leading to concerns he might fire the special counsel.

Trump should insist on Libya-style denuclearization for North…

WASHINGTON ( ) – John Bolton, U.S. President Donald Trump’s new national security adviser, said Trump should insist that any meeting he holds with North Korea’s leader must be focused squarely on how to eliminate that country’s nuclear weapons program as quickly as possible.

Bolton, a hawk who Trump named on Thursday to replace H.R. McMaster in the key security role, told Radio Free Asia on Monday that discussions at the proposed summit with Kim Jong Un should be similar to those that led to components of Libya’s nuclear program being shipped to the United States in 2004.

“Let’s have this conversation by May, or even before that, and let’s see how serious North Korea really is,” Bolton said, according to a transcript of his remarks posted on the RFA website on Friday.

“If they’re not prepared to have that kind of serious discussion, it could actually be a very short meeting.”

Bolton said North Korea had used negotiations in the past to camouflage its weapons development and he was skeptical about its intentions. He said U.S. ally South Korea, which restarted talks with North Korea this year, should be cautious before agreeing to anything with Pyongyang.

“We should insist that if this meeting is going to take place, it will be similar to discussions we had with Libya 13 or 14 years ago: how to,夜上海419龙凤论坛Nadine, pack up their nuclear weapons program and take it to Oak Ridge, Tenne,上海夜网后花园Jack,ssee,” he said.

Bolton said it was important for Trump to “make the point that he’s not there to waste time and that we expect real denuclearization, not talks about talks about denuclearization, but concretely how we’re going to eliminate their program as quickly as possible.”

Bolton also said the United States should not offer North Korea economic aid, or a peace treaty, adding, “they’re lucky to be having a meeting with the President of the United States.”

Bolton, a hardliner who has advocated regime change and military force against North Ko,上海夜生活网交流Quay,rea, said no one wanted to see military action, but it would be a mistake to leave the country with nuclear weapons. He warned of the risk of Pyongyang selling nuclear weapons technology to Islamic State, al Qaeda, or any aspiring nuclear-weapons state.

“President Trump has unattractive options … he doesn’t have much time,” Bolton said. “Somebody said, you know, we can’t kick the can down the road any further because there isn’t any road left.”

South Korean officials met Kim Jong Un this month and told Washington the leader was open to giving up his nuclear weapons if North Korea’s security was guaranteed.

Trump responded with a surprise announcement th上海夜生活at he was willing to meet Kim before the end of May in a bid to resolve the crisis over North Korea’s development of nuclear missiles capable of hitting the United States.

North Korea argues its weapons program is needed for defense, a belief analysts say is reinforced by the fate of Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi after giving up his nuclear program.

Mexican president set to extend power in state votes, despite wobbles

MEXICO CITY ( ) – Mexico’s leftist president, Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, is poised to hammer a fractured opposition this weekend in the first electoral test of his strength since taking office, despite presiding over an economy in reverse and rising violence.

Lopez Obrador’s National Regeneration Movement (MORENA) is cruising toward victory in gubernatorial races in the border state of Baja California and the central region of Puebla, the two biggest posts among dozens up for grabs on June 2.

Opinion polls show the vow made by Lopez Obrador to clean up politics, which propelled him to victory last July, still resonates with voters more than warnings from discredited adversaries that his centralizing urges concentrate too much power in one person and are encouraging arbitrary decision-making.

Voter surveys give Jaime Bonilla, the MORENA candidate in Baja California, more than double the support of all rivals. Miguel Barbosa, the Puebla conte,上海夜网官方网站Daisy,nder, holds a slimmer lead but still was 16 percentage points clear once undecided voters were stripped out in a poll published on Monday.

“The wave from last July 1 is still very strong, the MORENA wave,” Mario Delgado, MORENA’s leader in the lower house of Congress, told , predicting defeat for the center-right National Action Party (PAN) still governing the two states.

“These are governments synonymous with what people voted to change,” he said, “governments heavily associated with corruption.”

Lopez Obrador has little to show yet for his fight against corruption but there are signs that may be changing. On Monday, the Finance Ministry said it had blocked the bank accounts of a former boss of state oil firm Pemex, Emilio Lozoya, on suspicion of conducting illegal financial operations.

Lozoya was a close ally of Lopez Obrador’s predecessor as president, Enrique Pena Nieto.

SETBACKS

The six months since Lopez Obrador took office on Dec. 1 have not been smooth sailing.

Some officials say the government’s promise to run a tight budget has created shortfalls in public services including hospitals, a complaint that sparked the first major resignation from the Lopez Obrador administration last week.

Meanwhile, u-turns made by the president on Pena Nieto’s economic policies and doubts about the future of the debt-laden Pemex have rattled financial markets.

He also has failed to curb surging violence and a new national security force has yet to be deployed. So far, murders are on track to surpass the 2018 record of nearly 29,000.

Although he has pledged to lift economic growth, the economy contracted 0.2% quarter-on-quarter during the first three months of 2019.

The setbacks have taken some of the shine off Lopez Obrador’s popularity, which rose as high as 80 percent in some surveys during his first few weeks.

A daily tracking poll by pollster Mitofsky shows that approval for Lopez Obrador has dipped from nearly 68% in mid-April to about 62% at the start of this week.

“The most urgent matter is to pacify the country and make Mexicans feel safe again,” Delgado said. “And secondly, I think government spending needs to be speeded up to counter the (economic) trend of the first quarter.”

At present Lopez Obrador has little to fear from the opposition, which he has relentlessly castigated as the source of political corruption during his daily news conferences.

In an illustration of how the combative Lopez Obrador is remaking the political map of Mexico, some上海夜生活网 prominent figures long allied to the parties he has pilloried have come out in support of MORENA at Sunday’s votes.

“The opposition is decimated, divided and has no credibility,” said Fernando Belaunzaran, a trenchant critic of the president from the Party of the De,夜上海论坛Earl,mocratic Revolution – a center-left party that Lopez Obrador once ,上海夜生活乌托邦Idaline,led but now opposes him.

Sudan’s opposition observes first day of strike

KHARTOUM ( ) – Sudan’s alliance of opposition and protest groups held the first day of a strike on Tuesday as tensions mounted with the country’s military rulers over the transition to democracy.

Talks between the ruling Transitional Military Council (TMC) and the Declaration of Freedom and Change Forces (DFCF) alliance are at a standstill despite weeks of negotiations over whether civilians or the military will have the upper hand after the ousting of long-time president Omar al-Bashir last month.

Most staff in the medical sector, electricity offices and employees at the central bank as well as commercial banks observed the strike but other sectors were only partially affected.

Many shops remained open whi,上海021夜网Radley,le,上海夜生活去哪玩Macey, buses were still transporting residents, a witness said. The airport in Khartoum was operating normally, a civil aviation authority source and state news agency SUNA said.

The DFCF had said the two-day strike would encompass public and private enterprise, including the civil aviation, railway, petroleum, banking, communications and health sectors.

If an agreement was not reached with the TMC, the DFCF would escalate by calling for an open strike and indefinite civil disobedience until power is handed to civilians, Wagdy Saleh, a representative of a coalition within the DFCF, told a news conference.

Saleh also said the TMC had demanded a two-thirds majority of eight to three on the sovereign council that will lead the country. The DFCF alliance want上海夜生活论坛s civilians to dominate the council.

The deputy head of the TMC, Lieutenant General Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo, said on Monday that the council was ready to hand over power swiftly, ,上海夜生活网交流Lance,but that the opposition was not being serious about sharing power and wanted to confine the military to a ceremonial role.

The TMC has suggested that elections should be held if an agreement cannot be reached between the sides.

The military ousted and detained Bashir on April 11, ending his 30-year rule after 16 weeks of street protests against him.

U.S. to boycott flagship Russian investment forum over detained…

MOSCOW ( ) – U.S. A上海夜生活mbassador to Russia Jon Huntsman will boycott a flagship investor forum in St Petersburg this summer to protest against Moscow’s prosecution of prominent U.S. investor Michael Calvey, a State Department spokeswoman said on Tuesday.

Calvey, founder of the Baring Vostok private equity group, was detained in February pending a trial on embezzlement charges. He denies wrongdoing and says the case is a way of pressuring him in a dispute over control of a Russian bank.

The case has rattled Russia’s business community despite a court last month releasing Calvey from jail and placing him under house arrest.

“As (ambassador Huntsman,上海夜生活桑拿会所Dakota,) has said many times, it would be difficult for him to atte,上海夜生活网交流Radley,nd while … Calvey is being detained a,上海夜生活服务Kailani,nd charged in a criminal court for issues related to a business dispute,” the spokeswoman said.

The U.S. embassy in Moscow did not plan to send any representatives and nor did the U.S. government intend to send anyone from Washington, she said.

The St Petersburg International Economic Forum is attended by President Vladimir Putin annually. Held in July, it is one of Russia’s most high-profile business events and Moscow uses it to burnish the country’s image as an investment destination.