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Press freedoms in Hong Kong “hanging on by a thread”

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A pro-Democracy newspaper has been raided again, and the editorial team warns press freedoms in Hong Kong are under threat like never before.

Nine months after the Apple Daily newsroom was raided, hundreds of officers again swept the office and arrested five top executives under national security charges.

The paper and its jailed owner Jimmy Lai have long been a thorn in Beijing’s side with unapologetic support for the financial hub’s pro-democracy movement.

Five hundred police sifted through reporters computers and notebooks.

Hong Kong police said 500 officers raided the anti-government tabloid’s Tseung Kwan O office,, going through reporters’ documents and notes.

Apple Daily streamed the event live online.

Police raid the Apple Daily newsroom

Dawn operation

More than 500 officers conducted a dawn operation which authorities said was sparked by articles Apple Daily had published “appealing for sanctions” against Hong Kong and China’s leaders.

Pictures published by Apple Daily showed police sitting at reporters’ desks and using their computers.

A person streaming a live feed for Apple Daily’s Facebook page said reporters were prevented from accessing certain floors or getting their equipment or notebooks.

In a message to readers, Apple Daily warned Hong Kong’s press freedoms are “hanging by a thread”.

Police say at least 30 articles published in 2019 may have breached national security by calling for foreign sanctions against the Hong Kong government.

This is the first time where authorities said news articles could potentially violate the security law.

Supt Li, who heads the police force’s national security department, said Secretary for Security John Lee had issued  an order to freeze HK$18 million worth of assets.

Five people were arrested and money seized during the raids.

After the raid, reporters returned to a semi-gutted newsroom with the paper saying 38 computers were taken away.

Five executives of Apple Daily and Next Digital – editor-in-chief Ryan Law, chief executive Cheung Kim Hung, Chief Operating Officer Chow Tat Kuen, Deputy Chief Editor Chan Pui Man and Chief Executive Editor Cheung Chi Wai were detained.

The raid is the latest blow to media tycoon Jimmy Lai, the tabloid’s owner and a staunch Beijing critic.

Security Secretary John Lee describes the newsroom as a “crime scene” and says the operation is aimed at those who use reporting as a “tool to endanger” national security.

“We are talking about a conspiracy in which these suspects try to make use of journalistic work to collude with a foreign country or external element to impose sanctions or take hostile activities against Hong Kong and … China,” Mr Lee said. 

Global Politics

Travel bubble bursts between Australia and NZ

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New Zealand has suspended its travel bubble with Australia

The nation has halted its travel bubble arrangements for at least eight weeks as Australia continues to battle against the delta variant of COVID-19.

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern fronted the media and stated that “the Delta variant has materially changed the risk profile”. 

From 11:59pm tonight, Australians will be unable to travel to New Zealand on a quarantine-free flight

This restriction will be in place for at least the next eight weeks.

The trans-tasman route is already closed to travellers flying into New Zealand from New South Wales, Victoria and South Australia as those states battle COVID-19 outbreaks. 

“For New Zealanders in Australia, we are absolutely committed to getting you home,” Ms Ardern said. 

Jacinda Ardern has paused the trans-Tasman arrangement with Australia.

Constant disruption to trans-Tasman travel bubble

Flights to New Zealand inside the bubble have been paused and restarted as different Australian states have experienced COVID-19 outbreaks. 

“For the next seven days, we will have managed return flights for New Zealanders from all states and territories. 

“Only New Zealand citizens and those ordinarily resident in New Zealand will be able to fly home.” 

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Global Politics

“National emergency” – Sydney in crisis as COVID cases rise

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Sydney has declared a national emergency as COVID-19 cases rise across the Australian city

Sydney and the state of New South Wales is calling on the Australian Federal Government to “refocus the national vaccination strategy”.

As the delta variant of the virus spreads throughout the city, Premier Gladys Berejiklian and her government have declared a national emergency.

New South Wales Government officials say that the spreading of the virus is “threatening the safety of other states.”

“This is not just a challenge for New South Wales – it’s a challenge for Australia”

They’ve encouraged people in virus-ravaged south-western and western Sydney to urgently “do their duty” and get vaccinated against coronavirus.

“The national emergency, every citizen has a duty to do what they can to defeat whatever is happening to us – in this case, it is a Delta variant of a virus,”

Health Minister Brad Hazzard said.

The Premier has stressed the importance of getting vaccinated as NSW records its highest daily number of COVID-19 cases today.

“We need to vaccinate younger people, between that 20 and 40-year-old age group,”

The Premier said.

Meanwhile, Chief Health Officer Dr. Kerry Chant says Australia urgently needs to “correct the mythology about AstraZeneca”.

“There is no doubt that if we want to contain this virus and stop it seeping out to other parts of Greater Sydney, stop it impacting our freedom and our economy, but also stop it spreading to other states, we need to have a discussion about refocusing the national vaccination strategy,” Premier Gladys Berejiklian said.

The issue will be addressed at today’s National Cabinet, she said.

At least 53 of today’s NSW cases were infectious in the community

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Business

Is a $52 billion boost enough to end a global chip shortage?

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As the race to combat the global chip shortage continues the Biden administration is big to end the crisis

US President Joe Biden is preparing to spend $52 billion to boost the worsening shortage of semiconductor chips.

The White House is still waiting for congressional approval on the big spend but is pushing ahead with plans of how to invest the money wisely.

The Commerce Secretary says America “needs to incentivise the manufacturing of chips” if the country wants the crisis to end.

She added that officials have been speaking with the impacted industries on a daily basis which has helped address the shortage from the ground up.

Whilst there have been reports that the sector is gradually improving, but the car manufacturing sector may still be impacted by delays.

Biden recently called for Semiconductor chips to be produced locally in the US, but this company is ignoring his plea.

Semiconductor manufacturer ‘Global Foundries’ has ignored US President Joe Biden’s request for new plants to be built locally amid the global chip shortage.

Construction will begin on the $4 billion Asian plant in 2023. This goes against the Biden administration’s wishes to return chip manufacturing to American soil.

The company will join rivals including ‘Samsung’ and ‘Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co’ which are all also trying to address the current chip shortage.

The President has been under increasing pressure to secure a constant supply of this crucial tech that is used in so many modern devices.

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