Violence to push Hong Kong into deep abyss: HK chief executive

Robie de Guzman   •   August 13, 2019   •   262

Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region on Tuesday condemned the current riots in the region, stressing that violence will plunge Hong Kong into a deep abyss where the city will be “smashed to pieces.”

Speaking at a press conference, she said violent activists have committed large-scale vandalism over the past week, like blocking railways and airport, leaving many people affected.

A total of 238 flights in and out of the Hong Kong International Airport were canceled on Monday.

“The MTR handles at least 2 million passenger trips a day. Many passengers were affected that day. The Hong Kong International Airport grounded yesterday. Every day, we see a large number of travelers arrive in and depart from Hong Kong. Many tourists and businessmen also come to Hong Kong via this terminal. However, it was closed yesterday,” she said.

“Other violent acts, like blocking cross-harbor tunnels, assaulting police stations in various districts, attacking police with more dangerous weapons, hurling petrol bombs and injuring a police officer, and using smoke bombs, large slingshots and marbles, have pushed today’s Hong Kong into chaos. Many residents are concerned about whether they can go to work, go to school as usual. Some people have to give up shopping or meeting friends especially at weekends,” she added.

The chief executive said violence is damaging Hong Kong’s rule of law. She said assaulting police and their offices was unacceptable as the city’s 30,000-strong force is responsible for upholding the rule of law.

“The third thing I’ve seen is the large-scale attack against our judicial organizations in order to destroy the rule of law, leaving enforcement police to bear the brunt. I saw and heard a lot of online comments that play up revenge and attacks on police and also slander law enforcement police with photos and short videos of unconfirmed incidents in an attempt to set residents against police. They do nothing good to Hong Kong. This 30,000-member police force is an important pillar of the rule of law in Hong Kong. To my outrage, they even attack the families of police,” Lam said.

Lam said the priority for Hong Kong right now is to stop violence, and restore the rule of law and order. Once that has been achieved, she said, sincere dialogue and the rebuilding of harmony in society can begin.

She also said Hong Kong had already been badly torn apart and the city will need a very long time to recover.

“What had happened over the past week made me worried that Hong Kong, which is believed to be a secure society which respects the rule of law, will reach a dangerous situation. All kinds of ailments and pathogenic factors will occur although Hong Kong is an open, free, inclusive and economically stable city. It will take a long time to recover as I said last Sunday. Seven million people will not be able to live steadily or work happily. So here I plea everyone again to put aside differences, calm down, take one minute to think, look at our city, our home, and ask whether you really want to see it pushed into an abyss where it will be smashed to pieces. At present, what should be done is to fight against violence, safeguard the rule of law and restore order. Once that has been achieved, sincere talks, repairing and rebuilding of harmonious society can begin,” said she, appearing on the verge of tears.

Radical protests against a controversial fugitive transfer bill in Hong Kong have continued for more than two months. Though the bill has long been pronounced dead, violent demonstrations persist. (REUTERS)

Three injured in suspected attack near Israeli settlement – military

Robie de Guzman   •   August 23, 2019

Three people were injured in a Palestinian attack near an Israeli settlement in the occupied West Bank, according to early reports by the Israeli military on Friday (August 23).

A military spokesman said the attack was carried out near Dolev, a settlement northwest of the Palestinian city of Ramallah.

“Three people appear to be injured at the scene,” the spokesman said, adding that troops were searching the area.

Israeli news reports said the wounded were Israelis, and that Palestinians had thrown an explosive charge near a water spring popular with hikers in the hilly central region of the West Bank. The first reports came shortly after 10 a.m. (0700 GMT).

Israel’s Magen David Adom ambulance service said it was treating three people in “serious condition”, including a 46-year-old man, a 21-year-old man and an 18-year-old woman. (Reuters)

(Production: Ismail Khadder, Roleen Tafakji)

Russia’s floating nuclear plant readies for Northern Sea Route

Robie de Guzman   •   August 23, 2019

Russia showcased to the media the world’s first floating nuclear power plant Akademik Lomonosov on Thursday (August 22).

Crew on the Akademik Lomonosov are expected to leave Murmansk for a long journey along the Northern Sea Route to Chukotka in Russia’s far east.

Rosenergoatom deputy director Dmitry Alekseenko said at a news conference that the main advantage of the new type of nuclear plant is its mobility that allows it to reach any point with demand for energy. He also said that it would do no harm to the environment.

Critics, however, warily recall Soviet-era nuclear accidents and Russia’s naval disasters such as the loss of the nuclear-powered submarine Kursk, which sank in the Barents Sea after explosions on board, killing all 118 crew.

In 2018 Greenpeace issued a statement calling Lomonosov a ‘nuclear Titanic’. (Reuters)

(Production: Lev Sergeev, Dmitry Turlyun)

Bolivia ramps up efforts to control wildfires

Robie de Guzman   •   August 23, 2019

Firefighters battle one sector of wildfires at night in Bolivia. (Reuters)

Bolivian firefighters continued battling on Wednesday (August 21) a series of wildfires ravaging swathes of the country from both land and air.

Using a helicopter to dump water on hot spots, firefighters also used dirt and sand to put out smaller flames in Santa Cruz. Television images showed flames dangerously close to the highway that leads to Brazil.

Bolivia’s government has reported that nearly 500,000 hectares of forest have been left charred from wildfires.

This week, authorities warned that 70% of Santa Cruz Department is under “extreme risk” from forest fires.

Environmental organisations have also warned of damage to more than 500 species of fauna, some endemic, after slash-and-burn tactics combined with dry conditions have caused dozens of forest fires in Santa Cruz, Bolivia.

Speaking to the media on Wednesday (August 21), President Evo Morales said measures are being stepped up to battle the fires.

Bolivia’s wildfires come as neighbouring Brazil also battles record-breaking fires in its Amazon. (Reuters)

(Production: Monica Machicao)

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