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Tens of thousands rally in Hong Kong as China condemns U.S. lawmakers’ support

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HONG KONG — Protesters turned Hong Kong’s streets into rivers of umbrellas Sunday as they braved heavy rain to march in a show of strength.

The latest in a months-long series of demonstrations was being seen as a measure of popular support for the pro-democracy movement, with recent rallies marked by violent clashes with police that have garnered increasing global attention.

The large turnout suggested the movement retains widespread support as it continues to push for greater freedoms amid Beijing’s growing influence over the former British colony.

Frustration with a lack of progress and what protesters see as a heavy-handed police response have led to escalation, most recently after protesters occupied the city’s international airport last week.

Some activists apologized after flights were canceled and clashes turned violent.

Organizers said they hoped Sunday’s assembly would be peaceful.

“We hope that there will not be any chaotic situations today,” said organizer Bonnie Leung. “We hope we can show the world that Hong Kong people can be totally peaceful.”Police had approved the rally, sending alerts to phones throughout the territory urging people to stay within the confines of Victoria Park.

The crowd seemed to draw its members from the broader base that characterised the movement’s early mass protests. The mix of young and elderly, couples and families did not obey the police request, marching from the park to fill a major road in one of Hong Kong’s busy shopping districts.

But the atmosphere was less charged after weeks of tense and sometimes violent standoffs with police.

“Hong Kong people, keep going,” the crowd chanted.

In Beijing, meanwhile, a spokesman for China’s ceremonial legislature condemned statements from U.S. lawmakers supportive of Hong Kong’s pro-democracy movement.

You Wenze called the lawmakers’ comments “a gross violation of the spirit of the rule of law, a blatant double standard and a gross interference in China’s internal affairs.”

Beijing has struck an increasingly strident tone over the protests in recent days, accusing foreign countries including the United States of fomenting unrest.

You did not mention any specific lawmaker, but numerous U.S. senators and Congress members, including House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, have affirmed the U.S. commitment to human rights and urged the Hong Kong government to end the standoff.

Reuters contributed.



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Trump defends Kavanaugh as 2020 Democrats call for his removal

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A book out Tuesday examines past accusations against Supreme Court Associate Justice Brett Kavanaugh and presents another claim of misconduct that the FBI was told about a year ago, but did not investigate. President Trump defended Kavanaugh on Twitter, as Democratic presidential candidates called for Kavanaugh to be impeached.

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Exactly why UK voted Leave! Head of tiny tax haven insults our PM with anti-Brexit stunt

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SENIOR Tories last night denounced a “deplorable” attempt to humiliate Boris Johnson as he met EU chief Jean-Claude Juncker for Brexit talks.

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Pelosi gets squeezed on impeachment

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WASHINGTON — The impeachment vise is closing — on Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

As it gets tighter, Pelosi’s fortitude — and the strength of her strategy — will be tested.

After a string of House Democrats endorsed beginning a formal impeachment inquiry over Congress’ August recess, the Judiciary Committee moved last week to bless its own investigation without the imprimatur of a vote on the House floor. As a result of that, and of individual political messaging needs, Democrats have been wildly inconsistent in describing whether they are pursuing impeachment or not.

Nonetheless, the probe will ramp up with a hearing featuring 2016 Trump campaign manager Cory Lewandowski on Tuesday.

At the same time, Trump’s Justice Department is using mixed messages coming from House Democrats about their impeachment intentions as part of the case against giving lawmakers access to secret grand jury testimony from special counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia probe.

All of that amounts to a squeeze on the strategy devised by Pelosi, the California Democrat charged with the constitutional role of leading the House and the political role of keeping her party’s majority.

All year, Pelosi has been trying to balance between her political base’s demand to move against a president it sees as criminally corrupt and her priority of avoiding a series of impeachment-related floor votes that expose her party’s most vulnerable incumbents to anger back home from either liberal constituents or swing voters.

She appears to have landed on a one-vote strategy: let Judiciary draft articles of impeachment and then conduct just one House floor vote — or series of votes — so that lawmakers in tough districts don’t have to walk the plank over and over again.

“There are some of our members who are ready to vote to impeach and remove the president tomorrow. And there are some who believe that we should not impeach him because it will be a failed exercise in the Senate,” Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, said in an interview on CBS’s “Face the Nation” on Sunday. “But the vast majority of our caucus, including our leadership, is of the view that we should do the investigation before we determine whether the president should be impeached. That’s the category that I fit in and that’s the work that we’re doing.”

Pelosi’s approach will give an avenue to pro-impeachment Democrats to air their case while keeping it off the floor — and out of the minds of swing voters — for now. But the issue is sure to get thornier for her soon, in part because the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination contest is heating up.

While the topic was ignored in last Thursday’s candidate debate on ABC News, billionaire activist Tom Steyer, who built his public image and campaign on calling for Trump’s ouster, has qualified for an Oct. 15 debate in the Columbus, Ohio, area.

“Tom Steyer will hit the presidential debate stage two years after he first began running impeachment ads,” said Rebecca Katz, a veteran Democratic strategist and former congressional aide. “House Democrats have already twisted themselves into quite the incoherent pickle on impeachment and Steyer’s prominence only puts them more on the defensive.”

But Pelosi has been unmoved by political pressure on her left flank, acting as a bulwark against the passions of partisans and the various political and legal arguments advanced by colleagues who favor impeachment.

Former Rep. Donna Edwards, D-Md., wrote in The Washington Post a week ago that Trump’s actions not only merit impeachment by the House but demand it. If lawmakers don’t ask, she argued, his successors will be unfettered in their use and abuse of power.

“Should House Democrats choose not to act on this laundry list of obstruction, abuse of power and emoluments violations, they alone bear the responsibility of forever changing the lines of demarcation for future presidents,” Edwards wrote. “It really is that simple.”

It could be that frustration with Pelosi among Democrats inside and outside Congress boils over and she is forced to change her course.

But if Pelosi’s calculations are right, she is suffering short-term pain in service of a plan that will have Trump replacing her between the jaws of the impeachment vise in due time.

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