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20,000 apply for chance to ‘vent anger’ at Hong Kong leader

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Hong Kong’s embattled leader said Tuesday more than 20,000 people have applied to take part in a dialogue session with her and “vent their anger” at the government after three months of huge pro-democracy protests.

It is the government’s first attempt to reach out to the protestors since millions took to the streets in the biggest challenge to China’s rule since the city’s handover from Britain in 1997.

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Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam said Thursday’s meeting would be an opportunity for people to have their voices heard but some protesters said they were not interested as their demands are already clear.

“We have promised that participants from different background, with different political stands could express their opinions freely, even vent their anger,” Lam said.

While thousands have applied, just 150 people will be chosen at random to attend the two-hour session with Lam, and protest equipment such as umbrellas, helmets and gas masks will not be allowed.

“I hope the community dialogue could be held in a peaceful, rational and calm environment,” Lam said.

Hong Kong has entered a 17th week of political unrest which seen hundreds of rallies, some of which ended in violent clashes between police and protestors.

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More than 1,500 people have been arrested, the youngest aged 12.

Lam said she felt “heart-ache” seeing children being arrested and asked “how well can children understand the current political issues?”

“Here I need to urge parents, teachers and principals must let children know that political problems are not that simple,” Lam added.

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Her remarks drew criticism from opposition legislators.

“You never under-estimate the young’s voice,” pro-democracy lawmaker Claudia Mo said.

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“Many young people these days are very mature-minded and they knew perfectly what they are thinking… and what a civilised society should be.”

The protests were initially against a bill that would have allowed extradition to China, but have snowballed into wider calls for democracy and police accountability in the semi-autonomous city.

Video emerged over the weekend of officers kicking a detained man wearing a yellow shirt in an alley.

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At a press conference Monday a senior police officer suggested it was not clear the “yellow object” was a man and claimed the video might have been doctored, sparking ridicule online.

Higher resolution footage of the same incident shows a man on the ground, surrounded by police, one of whom kicked him.

Police have repeatedly denied using excessive force and Lam insisted they had exercised restraint.

“The fact that over three months, we have not seen major fatalities in Hong Kong, by world standard … it is quite remarkable,” Lam said.

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Argentine paleontologists discover small carnivorous dinosaur

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Fossilized remains of a new species of dinosaur that lived 90 million years ago have been discovered in Patagonia, Argentine paleontologists announced on Thursday.

The winged dinosaur had legs similar to the velociraptor and experts believe it may hold the key to revealing information about the evolution of birds.

The fossil remains, which measure less than a meter and a half in length, were discovered at a dig in the province of Rio Negro in Argentine Patagonia, around 1,100 kilometers (685 miles) from Buenos Aires, the scientific dissemination agency from the La Matanza university said.

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Thousands turn out for Vienna Black Lives Matter protest

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Thousands of people attended a Black Lives Matter demonstration in Vienna Thursday, one of a wave of global anti-racism protests sparked by the death of African American George Floyd at the hands of a white police officer.

Speakers addressed the mostly young crowd of protesters before they took part in a short march ending in the central Karlsplatz park.

The Vienna police department said the protest was well-attended, with at least 10,000 people present.

Several demonstrators said it was one of the largest protests Vienna had seen in years.

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Angela Merkel says ‘absolutely not’ planning 5th term

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German Chancellor Angela Merkel said Thursday she is "absolutely not" planning to stand for reelection to a fifth term despite her overwhelming popularity.

"No, absolutely not," Merkel told reporters from public broadcaster ZDF, saying her decision was "very firm".

The 65-year-old chancellor enjoys unparallelled popularity in her home country, with 71 percent of people saying they were satisfied with her performance in a poll for public broadcaster ARD also published Thursday.

Her ratings have climbed as Germany has suffered comparatively less than some European neighbours through the coronavirus crisis.

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