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Hong Kong police use tear gas as protesters try to storm parliament

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Violent clashes broke out in Hong Kong on Wednesday as police tried to stop protesters storming the city’s parliament, while tens of thousands of people blocked key arteries in a show of strength against government plans to allow extraditions to China.

Police used tear gas, rubber bullets and batons to disperse crowds of black-clad demonstrators — most of them young people and students — calling for authorities to scrap the Beijing-backed law.

Clashes broke out shortly after 3:00 pm (0700 GMT) — the deadline protesters had given for the government to abandon the controversial bill — and continued throughout the afternoon in the worst political violence the city has seen in years.

Rows of riot police battled protesters — many wearing face masks, helmets or goggles and using umbrellas as shields — who had gathered in the centre of the city ahead of a scheduled debate in the city’s legislature.

Police officers use a water cannon on a lone protester near the government headquarters in Hong Kong
That debate had to be rescheduled “to a later date” after huge crowds seized major roads outside the parliament.

The scenes echoed the pro-democracy “Umbrella Movement” of 2014 where protesters calling for greater democratic rights shut down swathes of the city for two months and battled police but won no concessions from Beijing.

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In a repeat of four years ago people flooded major roads and junctions on Wednesday, dragging barricades onto highways and tying them together. Others plucked loose bricks from pavements.

Demonstrators occupy two main highways near the government headquarters in Hong Kong
After the deadline expired, protesters broke into the forecourt of the legislature in a bid to breach the building and demonstrators were seen throwing missiles including metal bars at riot police. An injured policeman was carried away unconscious.

Police beat back demonstrators first with batons and pepper spray, then firing rubber bullets and bean bag rounds — small fabric bags filled with lead pellets — and dozens of rounds of tear gas as they cleared one side of the surrounded parliament building.

Hong Kong’s police chief Stephen Lo defended his officers, saying they had shown restraint until “mobsters” tried to storm parliament.

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“These violent protesters kept charging at our line of defence, and used very dangerous weapons, including… throwing metal barricades at us and throwing bricks,” he said.

– ‘Million’ march –

Many Hong Kongers are incensed that the government ignored a massive march on Sunday calling for the bill to be scrapped.

“It’s the government who has forced people to escalate their actions, so I think it’s inevitable for the fight this time to get heated,” said 21-year-old protester Lau Ka-chun.

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Organisers said more than a million people turned out on Sunday to oppose the proposed law, which would allow Hong Kong to send suspects to other jurisdictions around the world — including China.

But the record numbers failed to sway Hong Kong’s pro-Beijing leader Carrie Lam, who has rejected calls to withdraw the bill.

Matthew Cheung, the city’s chief secretary, on Wednesday called on demonstrators to withdraw.

“I also urge citizens who have gathered to show restraint as much as possible, disperse peacefully and do not defy the law,” he said in a video message.

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Large crowds of protesters have gathered in central Hong Kong in a show of strength against the government’s divisive plan to allow extraditions to mainland China
Opposition to the bill has united an unusually wide cross-section of the city from influential businesses and lawyers, to religious groups, student unions and workers.

Western nations have criticised the plans while Beijing has voiced support.

Opponents are fearful the law would entangle people in the mainland’s opaque courts, leaving them vulnerable to a justice system seen as acting at the behest of the Chinese Communist Party.

– ‘Hong Kong will bleed’ –

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Protesters vowed to stay on the streets until the bill is abandoned.

Rows of riot police were far outnumbered by protesters — many of whom wore face masks, helmets or goggles
“Stalling is not our ultimate goal. We need them to consider scrapping it,” said student Charles Lee, 23. “Clashes are unavoidable if they adopt this attitude towards their citizens.”

Lawmakers had been due to debate the bill on Wednesday morning in the city’s legislature, which is dominated by Beijing loyalists, with a final vote expected on June 20.

It was not announced when the next meeting on the bill would be held.

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“The only responsible thing to do now is for Carrie Lam to withdraw the evil bill, or at least to shelve it in order to solve the crisis,” said pro-democracy lawmaker Fernando Cheung.

Hong Kong’s leaders say the proposed law is needed to plug loopholes and to stop the city being a sanctuary for fugitives, and that safeguards are in place to ensure that political critics of Beijing will not be targeted.

But many Hong Kongers have little faith in the government’s assurances after years of heightened fears that a resurgent Beijing is trying to quash the city’s unique freedoms and culture — despite a 50-year agreement between Hong Kong’s former colonial ruler, Britain, and China that means the city is guaranteed freedoms unseen on the Chinese mainland.

Hong Kong’s stock market sank nearly 1.8 percent on Wednesday in the city-wide turmoil.

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2020 Election

WATCH: Klobuchar uses Trump’s own intel advisors to blast GOP’s inaction on election security

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Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), a 2020 presidential candidate, blasted her Republican colleagues on the Senate floor Tuesday morning over an election security bill.

Klobuchar wants to attach the legislation, known as the Secure Elections Act, to a defense spending bill. But the move faces opposition from GOP leadership and the White House.

“We know one thing, and who do we know it from? We know it from the president’s own national intelligence director, we know it from his FBI director, we know it from all of his security leaders, and that is that Russia invaded our democracy,” Klobuchar said.

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Indicted GOP lawmaker spent campaign cash on affairs with three different lobbyists and one of his own staffers: DOJ

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A new filing from the Department of Justice claims that Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-CA) has had multiple extramarital affairs since first taking office in 2009 -- including three with registered lobbyists and one with one of his own staff members.

According to the DOJ filing, as flagged by USA Today's Brad Heath, Hunter illegally used money donated to his congressional campaign to "carry out a series of intimate relationships" with women who were all involved in politics.

The DOJ argued that it needs to be able to discuss these affairs in front of jury in order to prove Hunter deliberately misused campaign funds.

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The View erupts when Meghan McCain complains her dad suffered worse than migrant kids while held as war prisoner

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Meghan McCain tempered her outrage over the Trump administration's detention of children because she feels her father endured worse treatment as a captured Navy airman during the Vietnam War.

"The View" co-host agreed migrant children were being held in inhumane conditions along the southern border, but she found it hard to summon moral outrage.

"I just want to say one quick thing," she said. "Apparently, by the way, me saying, 'Can I say one quick thing,' is now becoming a parody -- it's just how I talk, it's one of my tics, I'm sorry.

"Calling these places torture facilities -- I understand it's a humanitarian crisis," McCain continued. "It's horrific to detain -- like you said, people in jail get soap and people in jail get toothpaste -- but I know what a torture facility looks like. I've been to one."

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 ENOUGH IS ENOUGH 

Trump endorses killing journalists, like Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi. Online ad networks are now targeting sites that cover acts of violence against dissidents, LGBTQ people and people of color.

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