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Hong Kong protesters return to streets as transport is paralyzed

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Hong Kong’s metro system stayed shut on Saturday, paralysing transport in the Asian financial hub after a night of chaos in which police shot a teenage boy and pro-democracy protesters torched businesses and metro stations.

Friday’s protests across the Chinese-ruled territory erupted hours after its embattled leader, Carrie Lam, invoked colonial-era emergency powers for the first time in more than 50 years to ban the face masks demonstrators use to hide their identities.

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The night’s “extreme violence” justified the use of the emergency law, Beijing-backed Lam said in a television address on Saturday.

“The radical behavior of rioters took Hong Kong through a very dark night, leaving society today half-paralyzed,” she said in pre-recorded remarks.

“The extreme violence clearly illustrated that Hong Kong’s public safety is widely endangered. That’s the concrete reason that we had to invoke emergency law yesterday to introduce the anti-mask law.”

But undeterred by the ban and transport shutdown, several hundred protesters, many wearing masks, took to the streets on Saturday, marching through the bustling central district of Causeway Bay, with more protests planned through the weekend.

“We’re not sure what is going to happen later, but we felt we had to get out and show our basic right to wear a mask,” said one protester, Sue, 22, who wore a black mask and dark glasses.

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“The government needs to learn it can’t squeeze Hong Kong people like this.”

The increasingly violent demonstrations that have roiled the city for four months began in opposition to a bill introduced in April that would have allowed extradition to mainland China, but they have since spiraled into a broader pro-democracy movement.

Transport shutdown

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MTR Corp said its network, which carries about 5 million passengers each day, would remain suspended, while shopping malls and supermarkets also closed, in a new blow for retailers and restaurants in a city on the edge of recession.

“As we are no longer in a position to provide safe and reliable service to passengers in the circumstances, the corporation had no choice but to make the decision to suspend the service of its entire network,” it said in a statement.

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Protesters had set fires at stations, as well as to an empty train, and injured two staff, added MTR, which is known for operating one of the world’s most efficient rail networks.

‘Hong Kong protesters are incredibly resourceful and creative,’ says FRANCE 24’s correspondent Oliver Farry

All stations closed late on Friday, stranding passengers and forcing many to walk home, a situation set to worsen during a holiday weekend in the city.

The airport express, one of the most popular routes to the airport, re-opened with restricted service on Saturday, MTR said.

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More than a dozen shopping malls, supermarkets, and branches of Bank of China (Hong Kong), Bank of East Asia, and Industrial and Commercial Bank of China, which have been targeted by protesters, said they would not open on Saturday.

The 7-Eleven chain of convenience stores said outlets would close at 5 p.m.

The ban on face masks, which took effect on Saturday, was ordered under emergency laws allowing authorities to “make any regulations whatsoever” in what they deem to be the public interest.

But the move enraged protesters, who took to the streets to vent their anger, many wearing masks in defiance of the ban.

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There were no immediate reports of arrests over the masks.

Demonstrators set fires, hurled petrol bombs at police and burned the Chinese national flag, in a direct challenge to authorities in Beijing.

Police said an officer in Yuen Long, a district in the outlying New Territories that saw fierce clashes in July, had fired a shot in self-defence after a protester threw a petrol bomb at him, setting him ablaze.

Media said a 14-year-old boy was shot and the city’s Hospital Authority said his condition was now stable, but gave no details.

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About 100 demonstrators besieged a branch of the Bank of China (Hong Kong) in the high-end shopping district of Causeway Bay, while across the harbour in the district of Kowloon, protesters smashed the glass store front of a China Life branch.

Police fired volleys of tear gas to disperse protesters in flashpoint districts such as Causeway Bay, Sha Tin and Wong Tai Sin, underscoring the challenges they face as protests show no sign of letting up.

Hospital authorities said 31 people were hurt in Friday’s protests, two of them seriously.


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‘He’ll be remembered for his patriotism’: Twitter is loving Adam Schiff’s declaration that we can’t ‘just wait’ to hold Trump accountable

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This Tuesday morning, House Democrats held a press conference to announce abuse of power and obstruction of Congress articles of impeachment against President Trump. Closing out the presser, House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff argued that time is of the essence when it comes to holding Trump accountable.

"The argument 'why don't you just wait' amounts to this: Why don't you just let him cheat in one more election?" Schiff said.

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Here’s why Democrats only focused on two Trump crimes in articles of impeachment

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MSNBC's Claire McCaskill explained why House Democrats narrowed the focus to just two articles of impeachment against President Donald Trump.

The former Missouri senator believes that limiting the scope of the impeachment trial will help Democrats make a stronger case, because the narrative of Trump's wrongdoing will be easier for the public to understand.

"They're doing the 'KISS' principal -- keep it simple, stupid," McCaskill said. "A lot of Americans have tuned this out, and the moment they will tune in again will probably be at the Senate trial in January."

"I believe we'll have a partisan vote on the articles in the House, and a trial with the chief justice of the Supreme Court in the Senate chamber, that's when folks will tune in," she added. "And at that moment it is important that the House managers to have a very simple story to tell, and that is why we're leaving (special counsel Robert) Mueller on the side, bribery on the side, all of that on the side, and they're just focusing on these two simple concepts that the president abused his power by using his office for political gain, and withholding aide from an ally they desperately needed to fight a war with Russia."

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IMPEACHMENT: House announces two articles of impeachment against President Donald Trump

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At 9:07 AM ET Speaker Nancy Pelosi began a press conference to announce the House will draft and vote upon this week Articles of Impeachment against President Donald Trump. Those articles are abuse of power and obstruction of Congress.

Calling it a “solemn day,” the Speaker thanked the six committee chairs who have been engaged in the impeachment inquiry, and gave special thanks to the late Chairman Elijah Cummings.

Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler dsaid Trump “endangers” the Constitution and American democracy.

“Today the House Committee is introducing two articles of impeachment charging President Donald Trump of high crimes and misdemeanors.”

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