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Protesters stage anti-government rally in Hong Kong

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HONG KONG — Several hundred protesters rallied outside the headquarters of Hong Kong’s law-making body on Wednesday against government plans to scrap by-elections.

Activists from the People Power movement pumped their fists into the air and chanted slogans outside the city’s legislative council, shouting: “Respect the right to vote.”

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“The right to vote is a basic human right. The government should not try to stop by-elections,” the group’s spokesman told AFP.

Hong Kong’s economy is booming but its government is facing an increasingly angry public frustrated with its policies and soaring property prices, and analysts warn the discontent is set to rise.

Nearly 220,000 people hit the streets on July 1, according to organisers, to vent their anger at a slew of issues, in the city’s biggest rally in seven years, showing the deepening unpopularity of Chief Executive Donald Tsang.

Officials quickly shelved a controversial by-election bill in the wake of the rally, amid a chorus of criticism that Hong Kong was bowing to Beijing.

The shelved proposal stemmed from the resignation of five lawmakers last year, which triggered by-elections seen as an unofficial referendum to pressure Beijing to speed up electoral reform in the southern Chinese city.

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Meanwhile, up to a hundred protesters from another political group marched from the legislative council building to government headquarters in downtown Hong Kong, chanting: “I have the right to vote.”

The group, which was involved in a stand-off with the police that lasted hours, also called for the resignation of the city’s Secretary for Constitutional and Mainland Affairs, Stephen Lam.

Police presence along the march route was heavy.

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The former British colony returned to Chinese rule in 1997 but it retains a semi-autonomous status, maintaining its own political and legal system.


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FBI investigating Chinese businessman who bankrolled media company linked to Steve Bannon

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A Wall Street Journal expose revealed that a Chinese businessman is under investigation by the FBI after he used funds to bankroll a media company with ties to a former aide to President Donald Trump, Steve Bannon.

"Federal Bureau of Investigation national security agents in recent months have asked people who know both men for information on Mr. Guo’s activities, including the source of funds of a media company linked to him that hired Mr. Bannon in 2018 as a consultant, the people said," according to the Journal. "As recently as last week, the FBI met with one person familiar with the companies tied to Mr. Guo, the people said. The probe has been underway for more than six months, and prosecutors from the U.S. Attorney’s offices in Manhattan and Brooklyn have been involved.

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Mike Pompeo asks Egypt to stop harassing US citizens

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US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Wednesday welcomed Egypt's release of a US citizen but urged the ally to stop harassment of others.

Mohamed Amashah, 24, was freed Monday, nearly 16 months after he was arrested in Cairo's Tahrir Square for holding up a sign seeking the release of prisoners, according to human rights campaigners.

A dual US-Egyptian citizen who lives in New Jersey, he had gone on a hunger strike this year to protest his conditions.

"We thank Egypt for securing his release and his repatriation," Pompeo told a news conference.

"But at the same time, we urge Egyptian officials to stop unwarranted harassment of US citizens and their families who remain there," he said.

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Russia tells US to ‘mind own business’ over media freedom

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Moscow has told the US embassy to "mind your own business" after Washington's diplomatic mission raised concern about curbs on media freedom in Russia.

Rebecca Ross, the spokeswoman for the US embassy, on Tuesday expressed concern about a clampdown on journalists in Russia.

"Watching arrest after arrest of Russian journalists – it's starting to look like a concerted campaign against #MediaFreedom," she tweeted.

"Mind your own business," the Russian foreign ministry tweeted in response late Tuesday.

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