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Sewer campus escape bid by Hong Kong protesters ends in arrest

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Two pro-democracy protesters were arrested Wednesday as they emerged from a manhole on a Hong Kong road outside a besieged campus, in a thwarted escape bid from inside the university.

Two male protesters holed up in the campus for days were detained along with four people lowering ropes to help them out from the drainage system, police said.

They apparently crawled through fetid sewers to a manhole outside a housing estate around half a kilometre from city centre grounds of the Hong Kong Polytechnic University (PolyU), the scene of the dramatic siege by police.

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The group were arrested for a range of offences including “taking part in a riot” and “assisting offenders”, chief superintendent Ricky Ho told reporters late Wednesday.

Dozens of diehard pro-democracy protesters are believed to still be inside PolyU, running out of supplies and options to avoid the police cordon around the campus.

Some have made successful and daring escapes — shinning down ropes and jumping on waiting motorbikes, or making a run for it under the cover of darkness.

Protesters have also scouted out the drainage system for two days — with desperation and rumours of successful escapes prompting students to try the dangerous underground route.

The city’s fire service said that as of Wednesday evening, “no person has been found trapped inside the (sewer) system.”

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But many others have been arrested while trying to breach police lines, some receiving brutal beatings with batons, fists and kicks to the head while prone on the ground.

Dozens of those who made the Monday night breakout by ropes off a bridge were subsequently arrested, police said.

Hong Kong has been rocked by nearly six months of demonstrations against the city’s China-backed government.

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Quarantine, racial strife, Trump have Michelle Obama feeling down

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Former First Lady Michelle Obama said she is suffering from "low-grade depression" from coronavirus quarantine, racial strife in the United States and the "hypocrisy" of the Trump administration.

Obama made the remarks in the latest episode of "The Michelle Obama Podcast" released on Spotify on Wednesday.

"I'm waking up in the middle of the night because I'm worrying about something or there's a heaviness," the 56-year-old former First Lady said.

"I try to make sure I get a workout in, although there have been periods throughout this quarantine, where I just have felt too low," she said.

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Another watchdog at US State Department abruptly gone

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The internal watchdog looking into accusations against Secretary of State Mike Pompeo abruptly quit Wednesday, just months after his predecessor was fired.

The State Department's acting inspector general, Stephen Akard, is a longtime aide to Vice President Mike Pence and his installation in May had widely been seen as a way to keep a friendly figure in the role.

Akard informed colleagues that he is "returning to the private sector after years of public service," a State Department spokesperson said.

"We appreciate his dedication to the Department and to our country."

But Akard's departure comes just as his office finalizes a report on Pompeo's controversial decision to bypass Congress to sell $8.1 billion in arms to Saudi Arabia and other Arab allies.

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2020 Election

Andrea Mitchell knocks Biden for virtual convention speech: ‘How much does that damage the campaign?’

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MSNBC host Andrea Mitchell suggested to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) on Wednesday that presumptive Democratic nominee Joe Biden could "damage" his campaign by holding a virtual convention speech.

Mitchell made the remark after President Donald Trump said that he was considering holding his convention speech at the White House.

"Joe Biden is not going to Milwaukee," Mitchell told Pelosi. "How much does this damage the campaign?"

Pelosi disagreed by insisting that Democrats will hold a "great convention."

Mitchell then asked about Trump's plan to hold his convention speech at the White House.

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