By Adam Rose and Ben Blanchard BEIJING (Reuters) - Tens of thousands of people held a candlelight vigil in Hong Kong on Wednesday to mark the bloody crackdown on pro-democracy protesters 25 years ago in Beijing's Tiananmen Square, while mainland China authorities sought to whitewash the 1989 event. In Beijing, police flooded the streets around the square, scene of the worst of the violence a quarter of a century ago, and censors scrubbed the Internet clean of any mention of the rare open display of defiance against the Communist Party. In Hong Kong, which returned to Chinese rule in 1997 but remains a free-wheeling, capitalist hub, demonstrators holding candles and clad mainly in black gathered in a downtown park and called on Beijing to atone for the killings. A large number of mainland Chinese also flocked to commemorate the crackdown in the former British territory, where a vigil has been held every year since the massacre. Organizers said some 180,000 people took part on Wednesday evening. "Hong Kong is a free society where you can speak out. In China, the Communist Party dictates everything," said Chen Jing Gen, in his 60s, who traveled from the southern Chinese city of Shenzhen to attend the vigil. "People in mainland China are mostly aware of June 4, but due to the control of the Party no one dares to talk about it." The United States led international calls for China to account for what happened on June 4, 1989. The comments riled China, which has said the protest movement was "counter-revolutionary". Exiled Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama also used the anniversary to call on China to embrace democracy. China has never released a death toll from the crackdown after troops shot their way into central Beijing, but estimates from human rights groups and witnesses range from several hundred to several thousand. Public discussion of Tiananmen is forbidden in China and online references to it are heavily censored, leaving many of the country's youth ignorant of what happened. "I had never heard of the Tiananmen incident until I was studying in the United States when I was 18," said a 25-year-old woman surnamed Lan, who was visiting Hong Kong from Beijing. SECURITY BLANKET In mainland China, police, soldiers and plainclothes security personnel enveloped Tiananmen Square, checking identity cards and rummaging through bags looking for any hint that people might try to commemorate the anniversary. Police escorted a Reuters reporter off the square, which was thronging with tourists, saying it was closed to foreign media. Police also detained another Reuters journalist for trying to report on the anniversary in one of Beijing's university districts, releasing him after a few hours. Rights group Amnesty International has said at least 66 people had been detained in the period leading up to the anniversary. "They have covered up history. They don't want people to know the truth of what they did," veteran activist Hu Jia told Reuters from his home in Beijing, where he said police were present to prevent him from leaving. "Nobody would have confidence in them if they knew what they did... They should have fallen because of what they did," he added, speaking by mobile telephone. China's Foreign Ministry on Tuesday defended the crackdown, saying the government had chosen the correct path for the sake of the people. The protests began in April 1989 as a demonstration by university students in Beijing to mourn the death of Hu Yaobang, the reformist Communist Party chief who had been ousted by paramount leader Deng Xiaoping. They grew into broader demands for an end to corruption as well as calls for democracy. Many Chinese would balk at the idea of mass revolution today. China is now the world's second biggest economy, with most Chinese enjoying individual and economic freedoms never accorded them before. "I don't think it can happen again," said a Beijing resident who gave his family name as Xu. "China's system is certainly different from the West. The population is huge, 1.4 billion people. If you want to govern it well, it's not easy." But Wu'er Kaixi, a leading figure in the pro-democracy movement of 1989, told Reuters that Chinese people could rise up once more against the Communist Party in anger at anything from graft to the country's badly polluted air, water and soil. "Yes, you gave us economic freedom, but you are jumping in and looting us, robbing us of our future, corrupting the culture, our values and the environment," he said before the anniversary from Taiwan, where he works at an investment firm. "All this has been clearly and widely expressed by Chinese people in the last two decades. This discontent will emerge into one thing one day: a revolution. I am sure the Communist Party is very well aware of this." SIGN OF THE TIMES On both sides of Hong Kong's iconic harbor, scuffles broke out between rival political factions in the worst confrontations so far at a June 4 event, highlighting rising tensions between the city and mainland China. It comes at a sensitive time for the Asian financial center, with debate over constitutional reform looming and pro-democracy activists planning to hold mass protests in July to demand the right to choose their own candidates for a poll in 2017 to elect the next Hong Kong leader. Pro-Beijing group the Voice of Loving Hong Kong taunted vigil-goers at the entrance to Victoria Park, where more than 30 uniformed police monitored proceedings. "Let the past pass ... it's already 25 years. If we continue, all Chinese are losers," said chairman of the group Patrick Ko. The group played a video in which it claimed 5,000 soldiers were injured during the Tiananmen clashes, more than the 4,000 citizens it said had been hurt. Hung Lap, wearing a yellow headband, charged at the group with a large banner that said: "Overthrow the Communist Party, the Chinese Communist Party is an evil cult." Amid pushing and shoving, Hung shouted into a loud-hailer: "Go die ... Get out of Hong Kong." Hong Kong residents have increasingly taken to the streets to protest against perceived meddling by China in the city's affairs, causing a headache for mainland authorities. The world's first museum commemorating the victims of the Tiananmen crackdown opened in Hong Kong in late April and more than 6,000 people have visited since then. INTERNATIONAL CRITICISM The White House said the United States continued to honor the memories of those who gave their lives on June 4, 1989, and called for a full account of what happened. In democratic Taiwan, which China claims as its own, President Ma Ying-jeou said China should ensure that a "tragedy" like June 4 never happened again. "If Chinese authorities can tolerate differences, not only can that raise the height and the legitimacy of those in power, but also send a clear message to Taiwan that political reform in China is serious," Ma said in a statement. Japan, engaged in a bitter territorial dispute with China, used the anniversary to urge Beijing to respect human rights and the rule of law. Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei expressed anger at comments from the United States and the United Nations, saying they interfered in China's internal affairs. (Additional reporting by Michael Martina and Joseph Campbell, Faith Hung and Michael Gold in TAIPEI, James Pomfret, Yimou Lee, Emily Chung, Nikki Sun and Clare Jim in HONG KONG, and Kaori Kaneko in TOKYO; Writing by Anne Marie Roantree; Editing by Mike Collett-White)
- Yahoo News
Early data on the rollout of the vaccines for COVID-19 shows that minority populations in the United States already disproportionately affected by the pandemic are not being immunized at the same rate as white Americans.
President Joe Biden will continue his flurry of executive orders on Monday, signing a new directive to require the federal government to “buy American” for products and services. Why it matters: The executive action is yet another attempt by Biden to accomplish goals administratively without waiting for the backing of Congress. The new order echoes Biden's $400 billion campaign pledge to increase government purchases of American goods.Be smart: sign up FREE for the most influential newsletter in America.What they're saying: "President Biden is ensuring that when the federal government spends taxpayer dollars they are spent on American made goods by American workers and with American-made component parts," the White House said in a fact sheet.The big picture: Biden’s action kick offs another week in which the president will seek to undo many Trump policies with executive actions, while signaling the direction that he wants to take the country. * Biden will also reaffirm his support for the Jones Act, which requires maritime shipments between American ports to be carried on U.S. vessels. * Last week, Biden signed an order to attempt to raise the minimum wage for federal contractors and workers to $15 an hour.The bottom line: Former President Trump also attempted to force the federal government to rely on U.S. manufacturers for procurement with "buy American" provisions. * But supply chains — with some parts and components made outside of the U.S. — require long and complicated efforts to boost domestic manufacturing. Support safe, smart, sane journalism. Sign up for Axios Newsletters here.
- The Independent
Accused of aiming to take her job, Florida congressman tweets that he is ‘not seeking a position in House Leadership’
- Yahoo News Video
A former pathologist at an Arkansas veterans’ hospital has been sentenced to 20 years in federal prison after pleading guilty last year to involuntary manslaughter in the death of a patient that he misdiagnosed.
- Associated Press
A federal judge on Sunday blocked the release of a Tennessee man who authorities say carried flexible plastic handcuffs during the riot at the U.S. Capitol earlier this month. U.S. District Judge Beryl A. Howell for the District of Columbia set aside an order by a judge in Tennessee concerning the release of Eric Munchel of Nashville. After testimony at a detention hearing, U.S. Magistrate Judge Jeffrey Frensley for the Middle District of Tennessee determined Friday that Munchel wasn’t a flight risk and didn’t pose harm to the public.
- The Week
President Biden has pledged to get 100 million COVID-19 vaccine doses to Americans in his first 100 days in office. And when reporters asked Biden if that plan was ambitious enough last week, he doubled down on the original plan.Even though the U.S. hasn't reached Biden's goal of giving 1 million vaccines each day, Biden still seemed ready to push forward on Monday. "I am quite confident that in the next three weeks or so," the U.S. will get that pace up to 1 million per day, and quickly after could make it to 1.5 million, the president said in a press conference. Every American who wants to get a vaccine will be able to do so by spring, Biden promised, though the COVID-19 pandemic itself could rage through summer and "early fall," he added. Immunologists meanwhile contend distributing only 1 million vaccines per day will drag the pandemic into 2022.Biden is pushing to get Congress to pass a $1.9 trillion stimulus bill after signing a series of coronavirus-related executive orders last week. He declared "time is of the essence" when it comes to passing the bill, but wouldn't pull out specific pieces of the legislation to prioritize on Monday.Biden also gave a confusing interpretation of his calls for unity, suggesting that a bill that doesn't have bipartisan support doesn't necessarily lack unity.> Unity doesn't have to be bipartisan, Biden says. "Trying to get at a minimum if you pass piece of legislation that breaks down along party lines when it gets passed. it doesn't mean there wasn't unity. It just means it wasn't bipartisan. I prefer these things to be bipartisan..."> > — Jennifer Epstein (@jeneps) January 25, 2021That comment comes as the Senate tries to work out a power-sharing agreement that's essentially at a standstill.More stories from theweek.com Josh Hawley knows exactly what he's doing Trump must be prosecuted 5 scathingly funny cartoons about Biden's COVID-19 push
- The Telegraph
The acrimonious split within Republican ranks widened over the weekend as Donald Trump made his foray back into politics, backing the re-election of a hard-line supporter as chair of the party in Arizona. His wholehearted support for Kelli Ward was seen by allies as the former president firing a warning shot across the bows of any Republican senators considering backing his impeachment. Underlining Mr Trump’s grip on the Republican grassroots, the Arizona party also voted to censure John McCain’s widow, Cindy, former senator Jeff Flake and governor Doug Ducey, who refused to back the former president’s claims of election fraud. Mr Trump’s intervention came amid reports that he is considering setting up a “Patriot Party” which would spearhead primary challenges to his opponents in the 2022 mid-term elections. The former president has already amassed a massive war chest with his Save America political action committee declaring last month that it had raked in $207.5 million in donations.
- NBC News
Because the incident happened in New York, the men may have legal recourse, but in nearly half the states, they would not.
India said it will administer homegrown coronavirus vaccine COVAXIN in seven more states from Monday as it seeks to inoculate 30 million healthcare workers across the country. The government this month gave emergency-use approval to the vaccine, developed by Bharat Biotech International Ltd and state-run Indian Council of Medical Research, and another licensed from Oxford University and AstraZeneca PLC that is being manufactured by the Serum Institute of India.
- Associated Press
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Sunday said Israel will be closing its international airport to nearly all flights, while Israeli police clashed with ultra-Orthodox protesters in several major cities and the government raced to bring a raging coronavirus outbreak under control. The entry of highly contagious variants of the virus, coupled with poor enforcement of safety rules in ultra-Orthodox communities, has contributed to one of the world's highest rates of infections. It also has threatened to undercut Israel's highly successful campaign to vaccinate its population against the virus.
- The Week
Senate Democrats are drawing a line at Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell's (R-Ky.) demand that a power-sharing agreement in the 50-50 Senate include a pledge to retain the legislative filibuster. "If we gave him that, then the filibuster would be on everything, every day," Sen. Richard Durbin (D-Ill.) told NBC's Chuck Todd on Sunday's Meet the Press. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) offered McConnell "word for word" the same power-sharing agreement used in the first half of 2001, and McConnell's insistence on adding the filibuster pledge is "a non-starter."But until Schumer and McConnell reach agreement on the Senate's operating rules, Republicans still retain much of the majority they lost last Wednesday."Without an organizing accord, Republicans remain in the majority of most Senate committees," and "veteran Democrats eager to seize the gavels and advance their long dormant agendas can only wait and wonder," The Washington Post explains. "Newly sworn-in Democratic senators cannot get committee assignments until an organizational deal is struck," leaving the old GOP-majority structures in place, and "Democrats can't unilaterally impose an organizing agreement because they would need Republican support to block a filibuster."The filibuster has evolved into a sclerotic de facto requirement for a 60-senator supermajority on all legislation. Frustration with obstruction by the minority led Senate Democrats to end the filibuster for some presidential appointees and lower-court judges in 2013, and McConnell continued eroding the filibuster as majority leader, killing it for Supreme Court nominees and further easing the confirmation of presidential appointees.A handful of Democratic centrists would prefer to keep the filibuster — for now. But there is mounting pressure from inside and outside the chamber. "There is absolutely no reason to give Sen. McConnell months and months to prove what we absolutely know — that he is going to continue his gridlock and dysfunction from the minority," said Eli Zupnick, a spokesman for the anti-filibuster liberal coalition Fix Our Senate.More stories from theweek.com Josh Hawley knows exactly what he's doing Trump must be prosecuted 5 scathingly funny cartoons about Biden's COVID-19 push
- Associated Press
President Joe Biden has brought back Dr. Kevin O'Connor as his physician, replacing President Donald Trump's doctor with the one who oversaw his care when he was vice president. The White House confirmed that Dr. Sean Conley, the Navy commander who served as the head of the White House Medical Unit under Trump and oversaw his treatment when he was hospitalized with COVID-19, will assume a teaching role at the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences. O'Connor, a retired Army colonel, was Biden's doctor during his entire tenure as vice president, having remained in the role at Biden's request.
- NBC News
Brittney Gilliam had taken her family for a “Sunday funday” when officers with guns drawn ordered her and the four underage girls with her to exit the car.
- The Telegraph
Britain's Covid vaccine supply is in jeopardy after the EU threatened to block exports of the Belgian-made Pfizer jabs amid a row with UK-based AstraZeneca. Brussels decided to impose tighter controls on exports after reacting with fury to the news that AstraZeneca will deliver 50 million fewer doses to the EU than it had expected. Ministers now fear deliveries of the Pfizer jabs will – at best – be delayed by extra paperwork and that the EU could try to stop doses being sent to non-EU countries after saying it will "take any action required to protect its citizens". In March, the bloc imposed export restrictions on personal protective equipment after it struggled with supply to its member states. On Monday night, MPs accused the EU of acting out of "spite" and trying to deflect blame for its own mistakes in getting vaccination programmes off the ground.
The United States often sends ships and aircraft into the South China Sea to "flex its muscles" and this is not good for peace, China's Foreign Ministry said on Monday, after a U.S. aircraft carrier group sailed into the disputed waterway. The strategic South China Sea, through which trillions of dollars in trade flows each year, has long been a focus of contention between Beijing and Washington, with China particularly angered by U.S. military activity there. The U.S. carrier group led by the USS Theodore Roosevelt and accompanied by three warships, entered the waterway on Saturday to promote "freedom of the seas", the U.S. military said, just days after Joe Biden became U.S. president..
- Associated Press
The patter of paws is being heard in the White House again following the arrival of President Joe Biden's dogs Champ and Major. Major burst onto the national scene late last year after Biden, then president-elect, broke his right foot while playing with the dog at their home in Wilmington, Delaware. The Bidens adopted Major in 2018 from the Delaware Humane Association.
South Korean reports say that Run Hyun-woo - an acting ambassador - fled to South Korea in September.
- The Telegraph
Israel will ban passenger flights in and out of the country from Monday for a week as it seeks to stop the spread of new coronavirus variants. "Other than rare exceptions, we are closing the sky hermetically to prevent the entry of the virus variants and also to ensure that we progress quickly with our vaccination campaign," said Benjamin Netanuahu, the Israeli prime minister. It came as a study in Israel reported a 60 per cent drop in over-60s being hospitalised with coronavirus three weeks after being vaccinated, in the latest sign that the jabs are effective. According to Maccabi, an Israeli healthcare provider, there was a significant decrease in hospitalisations from day 23 onwards, which was two days after patients received their second jab. Also on Sunday, Israel expanded its rapid vaccination drive to include 16-18 year-olds in an effort to get them back in schools to take their winter examinations. The winter matriculation certificate is a significant part of university and military admissions. At least one dose has been administered to around a quarter of Israel’s 9 million-strong population. The vaccine is generally available to over 40s or, with parental permission, those aged between 16 and 18. Israel struck a deal with Pfizer at the beginning of January that allowed them to expedite delivery of the vaccine, in return for sharing extensive data on their vaccination campaign with the rest of the world. Yuli Edelstein, the Israeli health minister, told The Andrew Marr Show on Sunday that the data from their vaccination programme suggests a first dose offered around 30 per cent protection from coronavirus.
- The Week
Vermont Sen. Patrick Leahy will reportedly preside over Trump impeachment trial instead of Chief Justice John Roberts
It appears Chief Justice John Roberts will get his wish and skip former President Donald Trump's upcoming Senate impeachment trial.CNN reported Monday — and Senate sources later confirmed to NPR and Axios — that Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), the president pro tempore of the Senate, will preside over the trial, which is set to begin Feb. 8.The Constitution dictates the Supreme Court's chief justice oversee a sitting president's impeachment trial, and Roberts did what was required last year when Trump was impeached for the first time, but the fact that this trial is taking place after Trump left office provided some legal wiggle room since there's no precedent for the situation. Roberts reportedly wanted to avoid another Senate trial because he was displeased with the politicization of his role last year.Assuming there are no changes to the plan, Leahy will now have dual roles during the trial, as he is still expected to serve as a juror along with the other 99 senators. Read more at NPR and Axios.More stories from theweek.com Josh Hawley knows exactly what he's doing Trump must be prosecuted 5 scathingly funny cartoons about Biden's COVID-19 push
Tacoma Police spokeswoman Wendy Haddow said police were alerted to the street racers and a 100-person crowd blocking area streets, according to the News Tribune. When the patrol car responded, the crowd began pounding on the vehicle's windows, she told local media. “He was afraid they would break his glass,” Haddow told the News Tribune, saying the officer sped away from the scene for his own safety.