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Hong Kong democracy activist Joshua Wong arrested in prison after 53 Democrats detained | World News

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Hong Kong pro-democracy activist Joshua Wong has been arrested in jail on a new charge, while a detained American lawyer has been granted bail.

Mr Wong, 24, was arrested on Thursday morning on suspicion of violating the controversial national security law imposed on Hong Kong last June, his friends and family said.

The leading activist, who is serving a 13-month prison sentence for organising and participating in an unauthorised protest in 2019, was taken away to give a statement on the new charge, a post on his Facebook page said.

Tam Tak-chi, a fellow activist in prison for “uttering seditious words”, was arrested as well, local media reported.

On Wednesday, 53 activists and Democrat Party members were arrested over their organisation and participation in last July’s unofficial primary election for the since-postponed 2020 Legislative Council election.

The arrests mark a major increase in the use of the security law – which was brought in by China last year and prompted months of protests.

It made acts of subversion, secession, terrorism and collusion with foreign powers to intervene in Hong Kong affairs illegal, with a maximum punishment of life imprisonment.

It has been strongly criticised by many Western governments, who have accused China of trying to crush any hint of dissent.

Opposition politicians resign in Hong Kong
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Opposition Democrats resigned in November after their colleagues were ousted

Hong Kong Police said the 53 arrested are accused of committing subversion under the law after they proposed using strategic voting to secure a legislative majority to veto government budgets.

Police said the ultimate goal of the accused was to force the territory’s chief executive, Carrie Lam, to resign and to shut down the government.

One of those arrested was American human rights lawyer John Clancey, who works at law firm Ho Tse Wai and Partners.

Anti-government demonstrators scuffle with riot police ahead of the bill being approved
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Demonstrators scuffled with police ahead of the law being approved last year

He was granted bail on Thursday, his associate said.

Most of those arrested were candidates in the primary but Mr Clancey was a treasurer for political organisation Power for Democracy, which was involved in the event.

Former legislative council member Au Nok-hin was bailed on Wednesday as he was in quarantine for COVID-19 when he was arrested, NOW TV reported.

The rest of the group are expected to be bailed on Thursday without charges – for the moment – but most have had their passports confiscated, an unnamed source told the South China Morning Post.

UK foreign secretary Dominic Raab called the arrests a “grievous attack on Hong Kong’s rights and freedoms”.

HONG KONG, CHINA - JUNE 4: Participants hold candles as they take part in a memorial vigil in Victoria Park on June 4, 2020 in Hong Kong, China. Traditionally the annual memorial vigil takes place at Victoria Park to mark the 1989 Tiananmen Square Massacre was banned due to the Covid 19 social distancing restriction(Photo by Anthony Kwan/Getty Images)
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Hongkongers held a vigil in June in memory of the Tiananmen Square massacre, despite being banned

He said they were protected under the Joint Declaration signed by China and the UK when Hong Kong was handed back to China in 1997.

“These arrests demonstrate that the Hong Kong and Chinese authorities deliberately misled the world about the true purpose of the National Security Law, which is being used to crush dissent and opposing political views,” he said.

“The UK will not turn our backs on the people of Hong Kong and will continue to offer British Nationals (Overseas) the right to live and work in the UK.”

Mike Pompeo, the US secretary of state, said he was “appalled” and called it a “campaign of political oppression”, while the UN also condemned the arrests.

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Donald Trump like a ‘mob boss’ but he shouldn’t be prosecuted, says ex-FBI boss Comey | US News

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Donald Trump needs the same level of affirmation as a toddler – but prosecuting him would only give him the attention he craves, says former FBI chief James Comey.

Mr Comey, who was controversially fired by the president in 2017, told Sky News launching a criminal case could lead to several more years of the “Donald Trump show”.

He said it could overshadow efforts by Joe Biden to unite America and is “probably what [Trump] would want the most”.

“I have never seen an adult with a greater hunger for affirmation than Donald Trump,” he told Sky News.

“I’ve seen it in two-year-olds and three-year-olds. Affirmation is like air, he needs it constantly.

“I’d like to see some of the lights go out and he can stand on the front lawn at Mar-a-Lago and shout at cars in his bathroom and none of us will hear it.”

James Comey and Donald Trump shake hands
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Donald Trump controversially fired Mr Comey as FBI director in May 2017

As president, Mr Trump is “constitutionally immune” from prosecution – but that ends in days, raising the possibility he could in future be charged if crimes were committed before or during his term.

Mr Comey agrees, though, with this week’s historic second impeachment of the president.

“I don’t think that anybody can disagree, there has to be the letter ‘i’ tattooed on him again, and ideally I’d like to see him convicted by the US Senate and barred from ever holding public office again,” said Mr Comey.

The 60-year-old was fired by the president while the FBI was investigating Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election – and is now a vociferous critic of Mr Trump.

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump leaves after giving an economic policy speech to the Detroit Economic Club, Monday, Aug. 8, 2016, in Detroit. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)
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Mr Trump is the ‘dictionary definition of a demagogue’, says Mr Comey

He said the outgoing president was “the dictionary definition of a demagogue”, who “aimed not just to lie to people but really to destroy the notion that the truth exists”.

“There’s a menace to him in private that you don’t pick up in public,” added Mr Comey.

“But I have felt it sitting close to him, that constantly reminded me of a mob boss because I’ve known mob bosses and helped put them in jail.

“That menace coupled with that hunger for affirmation is a really dangerous recipe.”

Donald Trump supporters storm the US Capitol
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Mr Comey says law enforcement should have seen the riot coming

Mr Trump has just a few days left before Joe Biden’s inauguration on Wednesday – but it has not stopped politicians voting to impeach him on charges of inciting the deadly riots at the US Capitol.

The storming of the building – the heart of US democracy – on 6 January caused widespread shocked America, with Trump supporters running amok and five people left dead.

Mr Comey told Sky News the danger remains and that he is worried about the potential threat from “armed, disturbed people” on inauguration day.

Many Trump supporters believe his unsubstantiated claims of fraud in November’s election and the FBI has identified more than 200 people threatening violence in “concerning online chatter”.

Mr Comey said the danger had “to be taken very, very seriously”, and that people involved in the previous chaos must be dealt with “swiftly and severely”.

Security has been ramped up at the Capitol building ahead of Joe Biden's inauguration
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Security has been ramped up at the Capitol building ahead of the inauguration

“I’m worried because there are armed, disturbed people who are in this state of mind where they believe their country is being taken from them,” said Mr Comey.

“So it’s a threat law enforcement in the States has to take very seriously.

“At the same time, I know that we have the capability, investigative and the tactical capability on scene, to protect these locations and so I am optimistic that the threat will be neutralised, but it has to be taken very, very seriously.”

The National Guard has also been descending on Washington to guard government buildings ahead of inauguration, when officials say 21,000 will be on hand.

Police were hugely outnumbered by the Capitol rioters and have been criticised over how it easy it was for the mob to seize control.

Several National Guard members are pictured lying on the floor of the U.S. Capitol
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Some 21,000 members of the National Guard will be in Washington for the big day

Mr Comey told Sky News he was “sickened” by the violence and angry at the failure to defend the building, despite the obvious threat.

“I was angered by the apparent failure to defend a hill, it [the Capitol] sits on a hill with 2,000 officers assigned to it on a daily basis, the failure to defend the hill. It just mystifies and angers me.

“It is going to be important for our country to understand that failure.”

He added: “9/11 we were told was a failure of imagination, we didn’t anticipate the way the terrorists might come at us; this didn’t require imagination.

“This was all over the internet and the group literally walked slowly down Pennsylvania Avenue towards the Capitol so it was just a failure and we need to know why at all levels so that we don’t let it happen again.”

Mr Comey has just released a new book, Saving Justice: Truth, Transparency, and Trust, described as a “clarion call for a return to fairness and equity in the law”.

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COVID-19: US intelligence claims Wuhan lab researchers had coronavirus symptoms before first reported cases | World News

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The US says it has intelligence that researchers in a Wuhan lab became sick with COVID-19-like symptoms in autumn 2019 – before the first identified case of the outbreak. 

A new statement from the US Department of State accuses the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) of “deadly obsession with secrecy and control” and claims the Wuhan Institute of Virology had been conducting experiments with a virus genetically similar to the new coronavirus.

The first cases of the outbreak were identified in the Chinese city of Wuhan and were initially thought to have originated from a wet market.

Wuhan Institute of Virology
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The new claims centre around the Wuhan Institute of Virology

While most scientists believe the virus first transmitted naturally from animals to humans, others have raised the possibility it could have leaked accidentally from the secretive Wuhan lab.

The Trump administration has been particularly critical of China, especially since the new coronavirus outbreak.

According to the US government, researchers at the lab had been experimenting on RaTG13 – the bat coronavirus identified as the closest sample to SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19 – “under conditions that increased the risk for accidental and potentially unwitting exposure”.

Several researchers then fell ill with symptoms “consistent with both COVID-19 and common seasonal illnesses”, it claims.

However, officials admitted they did not know for sure where, when or how the virus initially transmitted to humans.

This photo taken on February 22, 2020 shows medical staff checking notes in an intensive care unit treating COVID-19 coronavirus patients at a hospital in Wuhan, in China's central Hubei province. - China on February 26 reported 52 new coronavirus deaths, the lowest figure in more than three weeks, bringing the death toll to 2,715. (Photo by STR / AFP) / China OUT (Photo by STR/AFP via Getty Images)
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Medical staff check notes at an ICU in Wuhan

“We have not determined whether the outbreak began through contact with infected animals or was the result of an accident at a laboratory in Wuhan, China,” the statement said.

“The virus could have emerged naturally from human contact with infected animals, spreading in a pattern consistent with a natural epidemic.

“Alternatively, a laboratory accident could resemble a natural outbreak if the initial exposure included only a few individuals and was compounded by asymptomatic infection.”

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Sky team stopped from investigating COVID origins

The lab has denied all claims of a leak, while China has also claimed in recent months the pandemic could have originated in another country.

The state has been accused of covering up the initial outbreak and delaying the release of crucial information which allowed the virus to spread.

It has also moved to silence some in China providing first-hand accounts of the outbreak, including doctors who shared information between each other about a new respiratory illness at the start of the epidemic.

Zhang Zhan, a citizen journalist who reported on the outbreak in Wuhan, was jailed in December for four years for “picking quarrels and provoking trouble”.

A team from the World Health Organisation (WHO) has been sent to Wuhan to investigate the source of the pandemic, although there have been some concerns the trip will be heavily controlled by Chinese authorities.

 global team of scientists led by the World Health Organization arrived on Thursday (January 14) to China's central city of Wuhan, to investigate the origins of the coronavirus pandemic.
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Members of the WHO team arriving in Wuhan

WHO spokesperson Tarik Jasarevic told Sky News the team will “look into different aspects of the early days of the pandemic”.

Asked whether the team would investigate whether the virus was produced in a laboratory, he said: “We will follow wherever science leads us.

“The majority of scientists believe there is a natural origin of the virus, we know that bats are a natural reservoir of other coronaviruses, we really want to go and see and get the data.”

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NASA’s ‘megarocket’ roars into life – but only briefly, putting launch in jeopardy | Science & Tech News

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NASA’s deep space exploration rocket has briefly ignited its four engines for the first time.

The test was a crucial step towards a debut unmanned launch later this year under NASA’s Artemis programme, the Trump administration’s mission to return US astronauts to the moon again by 2024.

The rocket, built by Boeing, roared into life for just one minute and 15 seconds at the test facility in Mississippi.

The engines generated 1.6 million pounds of thrust, consuming 700,000 gallons of propellants while on NASA’s largest test stand, which is 35 storeys tall.

It was well short of the roughly four minutes that were needed to keep its development on track for it first launch in November.

NASA said: “All four RS-25 engines ignited successfully, but the test was stopped early after about a minute.

“At this point, the test was fully automated.

“During the firing, the onboard software acted appropriately and initiated a safe shutdown of the engines.

“During the test, the propellant tanks were pressurised, and this data will be valuable as the team plans the path forward.

“In coming days, engineers will continue to analyse data and will inspect the core stage and its four RS-25 engines to determine the next steps.”

Despite the test being cut short, NASA administrator Jim Bridenstine was still positive, saying: “Saturday’s test was an important step forward to ensure that the core stage of the SLS rocket is ready for the Artemis I mission, and to carry crew on future missions.

“Although the engines did not fire for the full duration, the team successfully worked through the countdown, ignited the engines, and gained valuable data to inform our path forward.”

“We got lots of data that we’re going to be able to sort through,” he added, talking about whether the November launch is still possible.

If it is not possible, it could push the debut into 2022.

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