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Hong Kong: Media tycoon Jimmy Lai jailed over pro-democracy protests | World News

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Billionaire Hong Kong media tycoon Jimmy Lai has been imprisoned over his role in pro-democracy protests.

Mr Lai, founder of opposition newspaper Apple Daily, was one of several activists who appeared in court on Friday who had been earlier found guilty of taking part in “unauthorised assemblies” during mass pro-democracy protests in 2019.

He was sentenced to 14 months in prison while nine others received jail time or suspended sentences.

The 73-year-old is a fierce critic of Beijing and his sentence comes as the mainland is increasingly cracking down on Hong Kong’s rights and freedoms.

Hong Kong media tycoon Jimmy Lai is seen handcuffed and escorted by the guards leaving prison
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Mr Lai is seen handcuffed and escorted by the guards leaving prison for his hearing

Mr Lai has been in jail since December after being denied bail in a separate national security trial.

District court judge Amanda Woodcock said even though the 18 August assembly was peaceful there was a “latent risk of possible violence” and that a deterrent sentence and “immediate imprisonment” was appropriate.

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Raab says ‘China is violating the freedom of Hong Kong’

Mr Lai’s repeated arrests have drawn criticism from Western governments and international rights groups, who raised concerns over waning freedoms in the global financial hub, including freedom of speech and assembly.

Amnesty International’s Asia-Pacific regional director Yamini Mishra said: “The wrongful prosecution, conviction and sentencing of these activists underlines the… government’s intention to eliminate all political opposition.”

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The other defendants also found guilty, included prominent barrister Margaret Ng and veteran democrats Lee Cheuk-yan, Albert Ho, Leung Kwok-hung, Cyd Ho, Au Nok-hin and Leung Yiu-chung.

They received sentences of up to 18 months. Ng, Leung Yiu-chung and Albert Ho were given suspended sentences.

The 2019 pro-democracy protests were spurred by Beijing’s tightening squeeze on wide-ranging freedoms promised to Hong Kong upon its return to Chinese rule in 1997, and plunged the semi-autonomous city into its biggest crisis since the handover.

Beijing has since consolidated its authoritarian grip on Hong Kong by imposing a sweeping national security law,
punishing anything it deems as secession, subversion, terrorism or collusion with foreign forces with up to life in prison.
Supporters of the law say it has restored stability.

Mr Lai has been a frequent visitor to Washington, meeting officials such as former secretary of state Mike Pompeo, to rally support for Hong Kong democracy, prompting Beijing to label him a “traitor”.

Prosecutors said he will face two additional charges of conspiracy to collude with foreign forces and conspiracy to
obstruct the course of justice.

Earlier this week, Apple Daily published a hand-written letter Mr Lai sent to his colleagues from prison, saying: “It is
our responsibility as journalists to seek justice.

“As long as we… do not let evil get its way through us, we are fulfilling our responsibility.”

It is “time for us to stand tall”, he wrote.

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Four-year-old boy buys 918 SpongeBob ice lollies for $2,600 on Amazon | US News

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Noah, a four-year-old from New York, loves SpongeBob. A lot.

In fact, he loves the absorbent and yellow and porous cartoon character so much that he decided to pop on Amazon for a spot of retail therapy.

Little did his mother know that he had purchased 51 cases of SpongeBob ice lollies – 918 of them to be exact – racking up a bill of $2,618.85 (£1,872).

The bulk order of popsicles was duly delivered to his auntie’s house.

Amazon initially told Noah’s mother, Jennifer Bryant, that they wouldn’t take back the ice lollies – leaving the social work student stuck with the bill.

The retail giant has since been in contact to find a solution – and thankfully, the SpongeBob saga has a happy ending.

A fundraiser that was set up to help Ms Bryant pay for the ice lollies has now raised more than $14,000 (£10,000), with contributions flowing in from across the US.

Noah is on the autism spectrum, and his family say that (once the bill has been paid) all remaining funds will go towards his education.

Ms Bryant wrote on the GoFundMe page: “Thank you SO much for your mind-blowing generosity and support.”

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More than 130 injured as Palestinian worshippers clash with Israeli police at Al-Aqsa mosque | World News

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At least 136 people have been injured during clashes between Palestinian worshippers and Israeli police at the Al-Aqsa mosque compound.

The violence at the major holy site, sacred to Muslims and Jews, is an escalation of weeks of violence in Jerusalem that has reverberated across the region.

The Palestinian Red Crescent emergency service said 136 people were wounded at the compound and elsewhere in Jerusalem, including 83 who were hospitalised.

It said most were wounded after being hit in the face and eyes by rubber-coated bullets and shrapnel from stun grenades.

Palestinians react as Israeli police fire stun grenades during clashes at the compound that houses Al-Aqsa Mosque, known to Muslims as Noble Sanctuary and to Jews as Temple Mount
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Israel said six police officers were wounded

Israel said six police officers were wounded.

Earlier on Friday, Israeli troops shot and killed two Palestinians and wounded a third after the men opened fire on a base belonging to Israel’s paramilitary Border Police force in the occupied West Bank.

It was the latest in a series of deadly confrontations in recent weeks that has coincided with the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.

Tensions have soared in recent weeks in east Jerusalem, which is claimed by both Israel and the Palestinians.

At the beginning of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, Israel blocked off a popular gathering spot where Palestinians traditionally socialise at the end of their day-long fast.

The move set off two weeks of clashes before Israel lifted the restrictions.

Palestinians react as Israeli police fire stun grenades during clashes at the compound that houses Al-Aqsa Mosque, known to Muslims as Noble Sanctuary and to Jews as Temple Mount
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The injured are believed to have been hit in the face and eyes by rubber-coated bullets and shrapnel from stun grenades
Palestinians react as Israeli police fire stun grenades during clashes at the compound that houses Al-Aqsa Mosque, known to Muslims as Noble Sanctuary and to Jews as Temple Mount
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The US said it was ‘deeply concerned’ about the heightened tensions

But in recent days, clashes have resumed after Israel threatened to evict dozens of Palestinians in the Sheikh Jarrah neighbourhood in east Jerusalem.

The US said it was “deeply concerned” about the heightened tensions and called on all sides to work to de-escalate them.

It also expressed concern about the threatened evictions.

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European Super League: Nine rebel clubs accept sanctions and commit their future to UEFA competitions | UK News

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Nine of the football clubs who signed up to the breakaway European Super League have agreed to UEFA sanctions and committed to its international and national club competitions.

The clubs, including the six Premier League sides, have agreed to re-join the European Club Association, which is the only representative body for clubs that UEFA recognises.

In the Club Commitment Declaration, they have also accepted the Super League project was a mistake, apologised to fans, national associations, national leagues, fellow European clubs and UEFA and agreed to financial penalties.

UEFA convened an emergency panel of its executive committee, which took into consideration “the spirit and the content” of the Club Commitment Declaration and in the end, decided to approve the various actions, measures and commitments made by the nine clubs.

A banner directed at the collapsed European Super League
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A protest banner lets the organisers of the collapsed European Super League know exactly how supporters felt

The clubs are Arsenal, AC Milan, Chelsea, Atletico Madrid, Inter Milan, Liverpool, Manchester City, Manchester United and Tottenham.

The three who have not renounced the Super League – Real Madrid, Barcelona and Juventus – are set to face “appropriate action”, UEFA said.

Twelve clubs in total announced on 18 April that they would be joining the new European Super League but so strong was the fan backlash that nine withdrew within days.

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A Spurs fan clutches a placard outside their north London stadium

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Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden got involved – and eventually announced the proposals were being aborted

Other steps the clubs have committed to in the UEFA declaration are:

• 5% of the revenues they would have received from UEFA club competitions being withheld for one season, which will be redistributed

• Terminating their involvement in the company established to form and operate the Super League

• Making a donation of £13 million, to be used for the benefit of children, youth and grassroots football in local communities across Europe, including the UK

• Agreeing to have substantial fines imposed if they seek to play in such an unauthorised competition (£87 million) or if they breach any other commitment they have entered into in the Club Commitment Declaration (£43 million)

Bayern Munich, who were not part of the Super League plans, celebrate winning last season's Champions League
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The Champions League is the current recognised European competition

UEFA President, Aleksander Čeferin said: “I said at the UEFA Congress two weeks ago that it takes a strong organisation to admit making a mistake especially in these days of trial by social media.

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Even Prime Minister Boris Johnson had an opinion, describing the new league as a ‘cartel’ that would damage football.

“These clubs have done just that.

“In accepting their commitments and willingness to repair the disruption they caused, UEFA wants to put this chapter behind it and move forward in a positive spirit.

“The measures announced are significant, but none of the financial penalties will be retained by UEFA. They will all be reinvested into youth and grassroots football in local communities across Europe, including the UK.

“These clubs recognised their mistakes quickly and have taken action to demonstrate their contrition and future commitment to European football.

“The same cannot be said for the clubs that remain involved in the so-called ‘Super League’ and UEFA will deal with those clubs subsequently.”

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