Russian democracy is a farce. Putin wants the same fate for America
- Even aside from Trump's bizarre loyalty to Putin personally, America's role as a global champion of democratic values has evaporated in a cloud of quid pro quos thanks to a president who is more likely to criticize traditional American allies than dictators like Putin and Xi Jinping.
- Now I'm watching Trump use many of the same techniques to chip away at democracy in my new home, although I cannot complain of exile when some of my Russian colleagues have been jailed or killed.
- In this he has a partner in Trump, who accuses Democrats of trying to rig the elections, attacks voting by mail, and has done little to prevent the raging coronavirus pandemic that looks set to continue into November and sow chaos at the polls.
Taiwan's first 'pretend to go abroad' tour takes off with fake flight
- While most flights in Taiwan are still grounded because of the Covid-19 outbreak, Taipei Songshan Airport (also called Taipei International Airport) is offering locals a tiny taste of travel, dubbed "pretend to go abroad" airport tours.
- Among these applications, 180 people -- or 60 passengers per flight -- were chosen randomly to join the half-day tour.
- Taiwan carrier China Airlines operated the first "flight" on July 2, which took place onboard an A330.
- Smaller in size and capacity than Taipei's Taoyuan International Airport, Songshan Airport is located on the outskirts of the city.
- International tourism has been effectively stopped in much of the world as countries shut their borders to stem outbreaks of the coronavirus, which has already infected more than 7 million people globally.
- Taiwan locked down its borders in March amid the growing coronavirus pandemic.
Mooted safe haven for Hong Kongers draws Beijing's ire
- Beijing has slammed the Morrison government over its looming offer of safe haven for Hong Kongers fleeing the ruling Communist Party's crackdown on dissent, as one pro-democracy activist expects there to be an influx into Australia.
- Following Scott Morrison's confirmation the government was looking at migration options for Hong Kongers, China's Foreign Ministry accused Australia of meddling.
- Cabinet will consider options next week to offer safe haven to Hong Kongers, including whether to give them priority under the skilled migration program to apply for visas to come to Australia.
- Home Affairs Department figures show at least 44 Hong Kongers staying in Australia had applied for a refugee protection visa since January.
- Labor foreign affairs spokeswoman Penny Wong and home affairs spokeswoman Kristina Keneally said the government should provide a pathway for Hong Kongers, starting with the about 17,000 people in Australia from Hong Kong who hold a temporary visa.
US bill penalises banks over China's Hong Kong law
- Washington | The US Senate unanimously approved legislation on Thursday (Friday AEST) to penalise banks doing business with Chinese officials who implement Beijing's draconian new national security law on Hong Kong, sending it to the White House for President Donald Trump's signature.
- The House of Representatives on Wednesday also passed the bill without opposition, a rare example of overwhelming bipartisan support reflecting concern over the erosion of the autonomy that had allowed the former British colony to thrive as China's most free city and an international financial centre.
- The United States and China have been at loggerheads for months over the handling of the coronavirus pandemic and Beijing's harsh response to protests in Hong Kong.
- British Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab reprimanded HSBC and other firms on Wednesday for supporting the law, saying the rights of Hong Kong should not be sacrificed for bankers' bonuses.
Bolton tells Australia: 'Stand up to China'
- Washington | John Bolton says Australia, the US and other allies need to strengthen their stand against China or risk becoming little more than vassal states of Beijing.
- Running through a long list of grievances against Beijing – including its military expansion in the South China Sea, the Huawei 5G spying concerns, the arrests of Canadian citizens "as hostages" over a US extradition request for a Huawei executive in Vancouver, and trade abuses – Mr Bolton said Beijing was picking on Canada and others "because they’re smaller".
- And while Mr Trump and some of his most loyal courtiers, including maverick trade adviser Peter Navarro, believe that approach unsettles adversaries, Mr Bolton said it "mostly encourages them to think that even when things look bad maybe they’re not so bad, and when things look good, they better take advantage of it when they can because it won’t last".
Foreign Home Buying Dries Up, Easing the Way for Domestic Buyers
- Foreign buying of U.S. homes was a driving factor in markets from California to Florida, helping prices reach new highs.
- Now, the pandemic, reduced travel and immigration restrictions are further undermining already weakening international demand.
- Overseas residential real-estate purchases climbed steadily between 2011 and 2017, peaking at $153 billion in the year ended March 2017, according to the National Association of Realtors.
- About 60% of foreign buyers are recent immigrants or foreigners who live in the U.S., while...
Iran sentences journalist to death, months after he was detained in mysterious circumstances
- Zam ran Amad News, an online opposition news site which Tehran alleges incited violence during deadly 2017-2018 protests, the semi-official Tasnim news agency reported last year.
- Three days later, Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps released a statement saying it had arrested Zam following an operation to "deceive foreign intelligence services" and "direct" Zam into Iran, state media reported.
- Iran has accused Zam of working with US, French and Israeli intelligence who provided him with "overt and covert" protection, according to Iran's semi-official Fars news agency.
- Following his arrest, Iranian authorities released a video of Zam in a car, wearing black-out goggles.
- Iran has been "one of the world's most repressive countries for journalists for the past 40 years," with at least 860 journalists and citizen journalists imprisoned or executed since 1979, according to non-profit Reporters Without Borders (RSF).
Hong Kong: UK makes citizenship offer to residents
- British National Overseas Passport holders in Hong Kong were granted special status in the 1980s but currently have restricted rights and are only entitled to visa-free access to the UK for six months.
- The PM said Tuesday's passing of a new security law by the Hong Kong authorities was a "clear and serious breach" of the 1985 Sino-British joint declaration - a legally binding agreement which set out how certain freedoms would be protected for the 50 years after China assumed sovereignty in 1997.
- In the meantime, British National Overseas Passport holders in Hong Kong will be able to travel to the UK immediately, subject to standard immigration checks, the prime minister's official spokesman said.
- Mr Raab said he wanted a positive relationship with China but Beijing had "broken its promise" to the people of Hong Kong through its "flagrant assault" on freedom of speech and right of peaceful assembly.
China hits back at US with new media restrictions as tensions rise
- London (CNN Business) - China has hit back at what it calls Washington's "suppression of Chinese media" by demanding that four US news organizations declare details of their finances and staffing in the country.
- The Associated Press, United Press International, CBS News and NPR News must submit relevant paperwork to the Chinese government within seven days, Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian said Wednesday at a regular press briefing.
- Beijing's response comes after the Trump administration labeled the US offices of four Chinese state-run media as "foreign missions" last week, requiring them to file paperwork with the US authorities on their finances and personnel.
- Earlier this year, Beijing expelled journalists from several major US news organizations, including the New York Times, the Washington Post and the Wall Street Journal, after the US capped the number of Chinese journalists allowed to work in the US offices of China's state-run media.
Hong Kong's national security law is finally here, and it could change the city forever
- The law also extends Beijing's direct control over the city, establishing a new committee for national security that will include a Beijing-appointed adviser, and an "Office for Safeguarding National Security," directly under the Beijing government, which has broad powers to prosecute Hong Kongers deemed to have committed particularly egregious offenses.
- The law states that anyone who "directly or indirectly receives instructions, control, funding or other kinds of support from a foreign country or an institution, organization or individual" could be guilty of an offense if they are pursuing certain actions deemed hostile to national security.
- In China, people have been prosecuted for leaking "state secrets" to overseas media, governments and organizations, something the new Hong Kong law also criminalizes, potentially making it far harder for foreign journalists and NGOs to operate in the city.