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|The Lincoln Project's 'Never Trump' ads expertly troll a president who never fails to take the bait
The Lincoln Project, which was created by a group of anti-Trump Republican political operatives last December, believes there is a logic to being a metaphorical fly buzzing around the president’s head.
POSTED JULY 10, 2020 6:04 PM
|Ghislaine Maxwell seeks bail, citing coronavirus, and denies Jeffrey Epstein charges
Ghislaine Maxwell, the longtime associate of late financier Jeffrey Epstein, on Friday forcefully denied charges she lured underage girls for him to sexually abuse and said she deserves bail, citing the risk she might contract the coronavirus in jail. Maxwell, 58, filed her request in the U.S. District Court in Manhattan, eight days after being arrested in New Hampshire, where authorities said she had been hiding at a sprawling property she bought while shielding her identity. A spokesman for Acting U.S. Attorney Audrey Strauss in Manhattan declined to comment.
POSTED JULY 10, 2020 1:06 PM
|In Hong Kong Security Law, China Asserts Legal Jurisdiction over the Entire World
The Chinese Communist Party’s new security law has criminalized any actions it deems to be subversion, secession, terrorism, and collusion with foreign entities in Hong Kong. The law spells an abrupt end to the political freedoms that Hong Kongers used to enjoy. Authorities Friday raided the offices of a research and polling institute associated with the pro-democracy camp just ahead of primaries in which it will choose its candidates for Legislative Council elections, and there’s certainly more to come. But there’s an additional reason to be wary of the law: It is Beijing’s assertion of legal jurisdiction over the entire world.The text of the legislation’s Article 38 is blunt, and makes an unprecedented jurisdictional claim: “The Law shall apply to offences under this Law committed against the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region from outside the Region by a person who is not a permanent resident of the Region.” If the provision is enforced as it is written, Hong Kong authorities could charge and prosecute individuals who have never stepped foot in the city but whom Beijing deems to have violated the law. “If mainland practice to date is any guide—and it is—then the definitions don’t matter that much,” wrote Donald Clarke, a professor at The George Washington University Law School, in an analysis. “Anything can be stretched as necessary to cover something done by the person being targeted.”The CCP could thus use Article 38 to prosecute offenses that are illegal in China but legal in the West. Theoretically, Westerners could be arrested by security agents from Beijing’s new base in the city, then rendered to the mainland for trial — for the crime of speaking freely in liberal democracies. Or as Clarke put it, the CCP “is asserting extraterritorial jurisdiction over every person on the planet.”This is not just a theoretical concern, either, says Kevin Carrico, a senior research fellow at Melbourne’s Monash University. In 2015, Beijing abducted five employees of Causeway Bay Books, a store that sold works on political topics considered sensitive by mainland authorities, in violation of Hong Kong’s Basic Law. The kidnappings demonstrate the CCP’s desire for extraterritorial law-enforcement authority, says Carrico in an email, and the new law “just gives the false appearance of legality” to its efforts to secure such authority.It’s not abnormal for countries to make legal claims that stretch beyond their borders or to punish their own nationals for crimes they commit abroad. But for a country to prosecute a foreigner for acts abroad would require harm to that country under widely accepted interpretations of international law. The other way that countries might claim jurisdiction over foreigners who live abroad is through extradition treaties. Without such treaties, says Terri Marsh, the executive director of the Human Rights Law Foundation, it would be very hard for China to reach non-Chinese citizens living in foreign countries. “China’s incursion into our sovereignty is a demonstration of why precisely other nations who are equally sovereign should not comply or cooperate in any way shape, or form,” says Marsh.As it happens, some 20 countries have extradition treaties with Hong Kong, including several that have not inked such agreements with the mainland. The Inter-Parliamentary Alliance on China, a group comprising legislators from 13 countries, has in the wake of the new security law’s enactment led a drive for countries to cancel these treaties. In recent days, Australia and Canada have suspended theirs, earning Beijing’s ire, and the United States could soon follow suit. Others, such as the Netherlands, have warned their citizens against traveling to Hong Kong.Although most countries will not extradite an individual based on political charges, Jerome Cohen, an expert in Chinese law at New York University School of Law, points to Beijing’s history of concocting false charges of conventional crimes, such as tax evasion, to target dissidents. Just this week, Xu Zhangrun, a prominent critic of the CCP, was arrested in Beijing on prostitution charges. Fake allegations won’t be a problem in countries with robust justice systems, such as France, but Cohen says he’s wary of countries that have voted with China on the U.N. Human Rights Council, and even of certain European countries.In addition to the risk of extradition, the high concentration of foreign journalists and businesspeople in Hong Kong would make it “a very convenient target, if China wanted to do something to hold some Americans hostage,” says Ho-fung Hung, a professor at Johns Hopkins University. He notes the 2018 detention of two Canadian citizens in retaliation for Ottawa’s arrest of Huawei CFO Meng Wanzhou. While hostage diplomacy had already existed as a possibility on the mainland, Americans critical of the Chinese Communist Party have generally been denied visas to visit China, ending up in Hong Kong instead. They used to enjoy immunity from Beijing’s reach there, but with the security law, Beijing could well detain and try them for speaking against the CCP in other countries. Carrico offers a dire warning: “In traveling to China and Hong Kong today, one is in effect taking the same type of risks as someone travelling to Pyongyang.”The danger is particularly acute for Taiwanese individuals and organizations. Leaders in Taipei have watched the Hong Kong crackdown with apprehension, fearing that the CCP will turn its focus to them next. Carrico notes that Hong Kong, which despite its former autonomy from the mainland did not diverge from Beijing’s official position on Taiwan, had until now allowed Taiwanese organizations to operate in the city. But “the [national-security law] means the end of that, and if I was in any way linked to the Taiwanese government and living in Hong Kong right now, I would leave immediately.” In fact, the law subjects foreign and Taiwan-based organizations with offices in Hong Kong to onerous regulations requiring cooperation with the city’s police commissioner. According to new rules released this week, the city police can even ask staff at “foreign and Taiwan political organizations” in Hong Kong to provide personal and financial information about their organizations.It is important to note that until Hong Kong’s rulers release further guidelines on implementation of the law, the precise nature of the danger it poses will remain unclear. Cohen predicts that Article 38 will be interpreted more narrowly than its wording would suggest. “Now even China’s regular domestic criminal law doesn’t go as far as this new national security law could be interpreted,” he says, noting that the mainland’s criminal code would not lead to prosecutions of foreigners over political speech legal in their own countries. He thinks that Article 38’s expansive wording was the result of a time crunch faced by those responsible for drafting it. But he is careful to emphasize that he’s only making a prediction, and that the law is already intimidating some activists into silence. “They are already being deterred, not only in Hong Kong, but around the world,” he says.
POSTED JULY 10, 2020 4:48 PM
|Russia's journalists under increasing pressure from the secret services in wake of Putin's shaky referendum victory
Russia's intelligence services have 'stepped up' their war on free media, carrying out a series of operations designed to intimidate journalists in the wake of Vladimir Putin's controversial referendum victory last week. In an unprecedented case for post-Soviet Russia, prominent defence reporter Ivan Safronov was seized outside his home on Tuesday morning by secret service agents and arrested on suspicion of treason. Citing the secret nature of the case, the investigators have not published any evidence to back up their claims but the reporter faces 20 years in prison. Last week’s overwhelming approval of constitutional amendments allowing Vladimir Putin to stay in office at least until 2036 was hailed by the Kremlin as a “triumph.” But results at the polling stations that were monitored by independent observers indicated something resembling a split vote. That was an apparent cue for Russia’s FSB secret service to take action.
POSTED JULY 11, 2020 1:15 PM
|Hospitals in Syria's rebel area reduce services amid virus
Hospitals in Syria's overcrowded opposition-held enclave are suspending non-emergency procedures and outpatient services following the detection of the first case of coronavirus, a leading doctor in the area said Friday. The first case of COVID-19, a doctor in the area, was reported on Thursday in Idlib province, the last opposition-held part of Syria in a sliver of land bordering Turkey. There have been major concerns of an outbreak in northwestern Syria, an area packed with more than 3 million people, many of them living in tents and encampments, and where health facilities have been devastated by Syria's long civil war.
POSTED JULY 10, 2020 9:36 AM
|‘Parents understand risks’: 15 staffers, 3 kid campers catch COVID-19 in Miami-Dade
As parents across Miami-Dade County wonder how schools will safely bring students back next month, they can look to local summer camps for an idea of how in-person learning during a pandemic may go.
POSTED JULY 11, 2020 6:00 AM
|Parents face dilemma as US schools seek to reopen
With the start of the US school year only weeks away, Marina Avalos still has no idea how or where her 7-year-old daughter will attend classes. Like many mothers, Avalos is reluctant to send her child back to school at a time when coronavirus across the country has surged past three million cases, including 130,000 deaths. On Tuesday, California -- where she lives -- set a new daily cases record, with 11,694 infections.
POSTED JULY 10, 2020 10:07 PM
|Despite local and national calls to defund police, Louisville didn't. Here's why.
Louisville, in the national spotlight after the death of Breonna Taylor, declined to shift funding from its police department.
POSTED JULY 11, 2020 6:00 AM
|Shooting of man by Baltimore police highlights 'total failure' of city's behavioral health response, agency says
BALTIMORE - After Baltimore police officers shot a man who pulled a firearm while undergoing a behavioral health crisis last week, the organization that oversees the city's behavioral health services called the current system "a total failure" that needs better integration of mental health professionals with the police. There is no indication that police dispatchers attempted to connect ...
POSTED JULY 11, 2020 6:04 PM
|Author Christopher Buckley: 'Everything Trump touches dies'
The son of conservative icon William F. Buckley Jr., Christopher Buckley’s new novel “Make Russia Great Again” is a rollicking satire of Donald Trump’s White House.
POSTED JULY 10, 2020 4:41 PM