A Virginia school board meeting erupted in chaos after hundreds of conservatives packed into the session to protest LGBTQ-friendly policies and anti-racist lessons.
The crowd was warned by Loudoun County board chairwoman Brenda Sheridan not to interrupt with chants and applause, but she was forced to call a five-minute recess shortly into the public comment portion of the meeting, and the crowd erupted after the board then unanimously voted to end remarks from the public, reported Loudoun Now.
"We came here to dissent, and this is our house, we're going to dissent," said protest organizer Ted Sjurseth, of Lucketts.
Sjurseth, who for years has organized America's 9/11 Ride for motorcyclists and was an outspoken critic of a plan to build a mosque near the World Trade Center site, explained before the board meeting why he had drawn more than 300 conservatives to the meeting.
"[I'm here to] voice my disgust at what's going on in the Loudoun County school system," Sjurseth said. "It's changed a lot in the last five years. … They're forcing this stuff down their throat."
Conservative outrage over so-called "critical race theory" lessons, which has been manufactured by Republican activists and hyped by Fox News, have roiled school districts around the country in recent weeks, but Loudoun County's board meeting was particularly unruly.
Sjurseth was briefly detained after he refused to leave the board room and was issued a trespass summons, and two people got into a fight that led to disorderly conduct and resisting arrest against one man.
Two people were treated at the scene for minor injuries.
Two arrests made at the Loudoun County, Virginia school board meeting after it was declared an unlawful assembly an… https://t.co/VBmAzaNGPA— Gabriella Borter (@Gabriella Borter) 1624400479.0
Deputies clear Loudoun School Board meeting room. www.youtube.com
Hong Kong pro-democracy newspaper Apple Daily announced Wednesday it was printing its final edition after authorities froze its assets using a sweeping new national security law, silencing the city's most China critical media outlet.
The decision is the latest blow to Hong Kong's freedoms and will deepen unease over whether the international finance centre can remain a media hub as China seeks to stamp out dissent.
Apple Daily has long been a thorn in Beijing's side, with unapologetic support for Hong Kong's pro-democracy movement and caustic criticism of China's authoritarian leaders.
Those same leaders have made no secret of their desire to see the newspaper shuttered and have used the new security law to bring about its rapid demise.
Owner Jimmy Lai, currently in jail for attending democracy protests, was among the first to be charged under the law after its imposition last year.
But the final chapter of the 26-year-old paper was written over the last week when authorities deployed the security law to raid the paper's newsroom, arrest six staff members and freeze its assets.
That last move crippled the paper's ability to conduct business and pay staff.
On Wednesday, Apple Daily announced its closure "out of consideration for the safety of its staff".
"Apple Daily decided that the paper will cease operations from midnight, and tomorrow (24th) will be the last publication day," the paper wrote on its website.
"Apple Daily's website will stop updates from midnight."
- Crackdown -
China imposed its security law on Hong Kong last year to stamp out dissent after the city was convulsed by huge and often violent democracy protests.
Authorities said their prosecution of Apple Daily was sparked by articles and columns that allegedly supported international sanctions against China, a view now deemed illegal.
It was the first time reporting and opinions published by a media outlet in Hong Kong had triggered the security law.
Five executives, including chief editor Ryan Law and CEO Cheung Kim-hung, were detained on charges of colluding with foreign forces to undermine China's national security.
Law and Cheung were charged on Saturday and remanded into custody.
On Wednesday police made another arrest. Yeung Ching-kee -- who writes under the pen name Li Ping -- was one of the paper's top columnists and the lead writer of their editorials.
The decision to freeze Apple Daily's assets laid bare the sweeping powers now at the disposal of Hong Kong authorities to pursue any company or individual deemed to be a national security threat.
The security law does not require a court order or criminal conviction to freeze assets.
Multiple international media companies have regional headquarters in Hong Kong, attracted to the business-friendly regulations and free speech provisions written into the city's mini-constitution.
But the city has steadily plunged down an annual press freedom ranking by Reporters Without Borders, from 18th place in 2002 to 80th this year.
Mainland China languishes at 177th out of 180, above only Turkmenistan, North Korea and Eritrea.
- First trial -
China has hailed the security law for successfully restoring stability after the 2019 demonstrations.
Authorities initially said it would only target "a tiny minority".
But it has radically transformed the political and legal landscape of a city that China promised would be able to keep key liberties and autonomy after its 1997 return.
On Wednesday the first trial under the new law got under way.
Tong Ying-kit, 24, is accused of two new national security crimes -- terrorism and incitement to secession -- after he allegedly drove a motorbike into police while flying a protest flag that read "Liberate Hong Kong, revolution of our times".
His trial is not being heard by a jury in a major departure from Hong Kong's common law traditions.
Instead it is being overseen by three judges specially picked by the government to hear national security cases.
Tong's case is unusual because he is the only Hong Konger so far charged under the security law with an explicitly violent act.
More than 60 people have now been charged under the law, including some of the city's best-known democracy activists, but their offences are related to political views or speech that authorities have declared illegal.
Under the law, China has jurisdiction over some cases and has allowed its mainland security agents to operate openly in Hong Kong for the first time.
As well as the no-jury provision, the law has also removed the presumption of bail for non-violent crimes.
© 2021 AFP
A strong earthquake shook Lima and regions of central coastal Peru late Tuesday, causing fear among the population and some damage, but no deaths or serious injuries.
Peru's Seismological Center said the quake was magnitude 6 and 32 kilometers deep, while the US Geological Survey recorded the magnitude as 5.8.
"It was one of the strongest earthquakes that has been felt in Lima in past years," said Hernando Tavera, head of Peru's Geophysical Institute (IGP).
Almost three hours after the first tremor, the National Emergency Operations Center (COEN) said there were no victims or severe damage to infrastructure, while the IGP indicated that two small aftershocks had been registered.
Peruvian monitors said there was no risk of a tsunami.
The quake struck at 9:54 pm local time (0254 GMT Wednesday), with an epicenter 33 kilometers southwest of Mala, itself some 100 kilometers south of Lima.
Crowds of residents in the capital -- home to 9.7 million people, nearly one-third of Peru's population -- poured out onto the city's streets when they felt the ground moving.
"It was very strong, it shook the whole house, we had to go outside," 60-year-old Julia Lazaro Rodríguez told AFP.
Mala Mayor Sonia Ramos told RPP radio that city officials were "walking the streets" looking for damage and victims.
"People are out in the street, there are reports of people who have fainted from shock," Ramos said.
Phone lines were temporarily interrupted to the city of 32,000 inhabitants, and Radio Nacional reported that some adobe houses had collapsed there, without giving details.
- Landslides and rockfalls -
Traffic was suspended along the Costa Verde where a busy road hugs Lima's beaches, after some rocks fell from 80-meter cliffs above, according to local television.
There were also minor landslides in some of the desert hills outside the capital.
Panels fell from the ceiling at Lima's international airport, though it continued operating, and in some supermarkets bottles were broken by the shock, local media reported.
"It was very strong, but nothing happened, we are fine," retiree Julio Lopez told AFP.
Peru is rattled by dozens of earthquakes of varying strength each year as it is located in the Pacific ring of fire, a particularly seismically active region where the Earth's tectonic plates collide.
In the Americas the ring runs along the whole Pacific coastline, from Alaska to southern Chile.
Tensions are already running high in Peru as the country awaits the outcome of the June 6 presidential election, in which an apparent narrow victory by leftist Pedro Castillo is being challenged by right-wing populist Keiko Fujimori.
© 2021 AFP
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