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Democracy books disappear from Hong Kong libraries

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Books written by prominent Hong Kong democracy activists have started to disappear from the city’s libraries, online records show, days after Beijing imposed a draconian national security law on the finance hub.

Among the authors whose titles are no longer available are Joshua Wong, one of the city’s most prominent young activists, and Tanya Chan, a well known pro-democracy lawmaker.

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Beijing’s new national security law was imposed on Tuesday and is the most radical shift in how the semi-autonomous city is run since it was handed back to China by Britain in 1997.

China’s authoritarian leaders say the powers will restore stability after a year of pro-democracy protests, will not stifle freedoms and will only target a “very small minority”.

But it has already sent fear coursing through a city used to speaking openly, with police arresting people for possessing slogans pushing independence or greater autonomy and businesses scrambling to remove protest displays.

Wong said he believed the removal of the books was sparked by the security law.

“White terror continues to spread, the national security law is fundamentally a tool to incriminate speech,” he wrote on Facebook, using a phrase that refers to political persecution.

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Searches on the public library website showed at least three titles by Wong, Chan and local scholar Chin Wan are no longer available for lending at any of dozens of outlets across the city.

An AFP reporter was unable to find the titles at a public library in the district of Wong Tai Sin on Saturday afternoon.

The city’s leisure and cultural services department said it would provide a statement later on Saturday.

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The national security law targets acts of subversion, secession, terrorism and colluding with foreign forces.

China says it will have jurisdiction in some cases and empowered its security apparatus to set up shop openly in Hong Kong for the first time, ending the legal firewall between the two.

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Rights groups and legal analysts say the broad wording of the law — which was kept secret until it was enacted — outlaws certain political views, even if expressed peacefully.

Any promotion of independence or greater autonomy appears to be banned by the legislation. Another vaguely worded provision bans inciting hatred towards the Chinese or Hong Kong government.

On the authoritarian mainland, similar national security laws are routinely used to crush dissent.

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The new security law and the removal of books raises questions of whether academic freedom still exists.

Hong Kong has some of Asia’s best universities and a campus culture where topics that would be taboo on the mainland are still discussed and written about.

But Beijing has made clear it wants education in the city to become more “patriotic” especially after a year of huge, often violent and largely youth-led pro-democracy protests.


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‘Friday Night Massacre’ at US Postal Service as Postmaster General—a major Trump donor—ousts top officials

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Government watchdogs, Democratic lawmakers, and pro-democracy advocates declared it a "Friday Night Massacre" for the U.S. Postal Service after news broke in a classic end-of-the-week dump that Louis DeJoy—a major GOP donor to President Donald Trump and the recently appointed Postmaster General—had issued a sweeping overhaul of the agency, including the ouster of top executives from key posts and the reshuffling of more than two dozen other officials and operational managers.

According to the Washington Post:

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Virus outbreak in Houston-area nursing home kills 17

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A novel coronavirus outbreak at a Missouri City nursing home, outside of Houston, has killed 17 residents, according to data from state officials.

City officials issued a press release this week raising alarm over 19 deaths that they said occurred at the Paradigm at First Colony Nursing Home but nursing home officials told The Texas Tribune that the number is incorrect and declined to provide the correct number.

The city also reported that the facility has 24 infected staff members and the nursing home reported 11 currently infected residents who are in stable condition.

“This harrowing development speaks to the severity of this pandemic and how everyone needs to take it even more seriously,” said Missouri City Mayor Yolanda Ford of the outbreak in a Wednesday press release.

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‘Gullible’ Trump administration paid up to $500 million too much for these ventilators: investigators

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Citing “evidence of fraud, waste, and abuse,” a congressional subcommittee investigating the federal government’s purchase of $646.7 million worth of Philips ventilators has asked the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of Inspector General to launch its own investigation of the deal.

The House subcommittee launched its review after ProPublica stories in March and April showed how a U.S. subsidiary of Royal Philips N.V. received millions in federal tax dollars years ago to develop a low-cost ventilator for pandemics but didn’t deliver it. Instead, as the coronavirus began spreading around the globe and U.S. hospitals were desperate for more, Philips was selling commercial versions of the government-funded ventilator overseas from its Pennsylvania factory. Then in April, despite having not fulfilled the initial contract, the Dutch company struck a much more lucrative deal to sell the government 43,000 ventilators for four times the price.

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