30 Aug 2019

Friday's world news: What's making the headlines around the globe

8:29 pm on 30 August 2019

Hong Kong activists arrested

July 7, 2019, pro-democracy activist Joshua Wong confronts police after taking part in a march to the West Kowloon rail terminus against the proposed extradition bill in Hong Kong.

Hong Kong democracy activist Joshua Wong Photo: VIVEK PRAKASH / AFP

Hong Kong pro-democracy activists Joshua Wong and Agnes Chow have been arrested on suspicion of organising illegal protests, as authorities clampdown on a wave of unrest that has plunged the city into its biggest political crisis in more than two decades.

Mr Wong, the icon of pro-democracy demonstrations five years ago that foreshadowed the latest turbulence, is the highest-profile arrest since protests escalated in mid-June over fears Beijing was exerting greater control over the city.

A third prominent activist, Andy Chan, was also detained.

Mr Wong, who was 17 when he became the face of the student-led Umbrella Movement, has not been a prominent figure in current protests, which have no identifiable leaders.

He was released from jail in June after serving a five-week term for contempt of court.

"He was suddenly pushed into a private car on the street," Mr Wong's political party Demosisto, which advocates for greater democracy in Hong Kong, said on its official Twitter account.

"He has now been escorted to the police headquarters in Wan Chai," it said. Demosisto's lawyers were working on the case, it said.

Police said Mr Wong and Mr Chow, both 22, were arrested on Friday on suspicion of "organising unorganised assembly" and "knowingly participating in unauthorised assembly".

Mr Chan, a founder of the pro-independence Hong Kong National Party that was banned last September, was arrested at Hong Kong's international airport on Thursday on suspicion of "participating in riots" and "attacking police" during a protest on 13 July, police said.

- Reuters

Read more:

  • Hong Kong activist arrested ahead of planned protests
  • The FARC returns to Colombia

    A group of former rebels from the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) said in a video posted overnight that they will embark on a new offensive, threatening to resume five decades of armed conflict against the government.

    Two former commanders from the group, known by their aliases Ivan Marquez and Jesus Santrich, appear in the 32-minute YouTube announcement, which Marquez said was filmed in Colombia's Amazon jungle.

    A peace accord signed by FARC and the Colombian government three years ago has come under pressure on various fronts, including the murder here of hundreds of former rebels and human rights activists, delays in funding for economic efforts by former combatants, and deep political polarization.

    "This is the continuation of the rebel fight in answer to the betrayal of the state of the Havana peace accords," said Mr Marquez, dressed in olive fatigues and surrounded by armed fighters.

    "We were never beaten or defeated ideologically, so the struggle continues."

    In his response, Colombian President Ivan Duque announced a reward of 3 billion pesos ($NZ1.4m) would be given for information leading to the capture of each of the people who appear in the video.

    - Reuters

    UK Oppositions parties will use Parliament to halt no-deal Brexit

    Britain's opposition Labour Party leader, Jeremy Corbyn, poses for a photograph as he prepares to meet with leaders of Britain's other political parties to discuss options for Brexit, in Portcullis House, central London on August 27, 2019.

    Britain's opposition Labour Party leader, Jeremy Corbyn, prepares to meet with leaders of Britain's other political parties to discuss options for Brexit on 27 August. Photo: Daniel LEAL-OLIVAS / AFP

    The opposition UK Labour Party will trigger an emergency debate in parliament next week to try to stop Prime Minister Boris Johnson taking Britain out of the European Union without a withdrawal deal.

    More than three years after the country voted in a referendum to leave the bloc, the United Kingdom is heading towards its gravest constitutional crisis in decades and a showdown with the EU over Brexit, which is due to take place in just over two months time.

    Mr Johnson, who became prime minister last month, enraged opponents of a no-deal Brexit on Wednesday by using a parliamentary mechanism to order the suspension of parliament for almost a month.

    Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn said that as soon as parliament returned from its summer break next week, his party would initiate a process to legislate against a no-deal Brexit that he said would be damaging for the jobs and the economy.

    "What we are going to do is try to politically stop him with a parliamentary process, in order to legislate to prevent a no-deal Brexit and also to try and prevent him shutting down parliament in this utterly crucial period," Mr Corbyn told reporters.

    "This country is in danger of crashing out on the 31st of October with no deal," he said.

    "We have got to stop that and that is exactly what we will be doing."

    Five other opposition parties, including the Liberal Democrats and the Scottish National Party, later issued a joint statement with Labour calling on Mr Johnson to let legislators vote on whether parliament should be suspended.

    - Reuters

    Kashmiris allege Indian Army crackdown

    Security forces in Indian-administered Kashmir have been accused of carrying out beatings and torture in the wake of the government's decision to strip the region of its autonomy.

    Villagers said they were beaten with sticks and cables, and given electric shocks.

    Residents in several villages showed a BBC journalist various injuries they said were suffered at the hands of the Indian Army but BBC was not able to verify the allegations with officials.

    The Indian army has called them "baseless and unsubstantiated".

    Unprecedented restrictions have put Kashmir into a state of lockdown for more than three weeks and information has only trickled out since 5 August when Article 370 - as the provision giving the region special status is known - was revoked.

    Tens of thousands of extra troops have been deployed to the region and about 3000 people - including political leaders, businesspeople and activists - are reported to have been detained. Many have been moved to prisons outside the state.

    - BBC

    Donald Trump launches space warfare command

    United States President Donald J. Trump, left, makes remarks establishing the US Space Command in the Rose Garden of the White House in Washington, DC on Thursday, August 29, 2019.

    Photo: AFP / Ron Sachs / Pool via CNP

    US President Donald Trump has launched a new Pentagon command focused on warfare in space.

    It comes as US military chiefs see China and Russia making advancements in the military final frontier.

    The command will focus on defending American interests in space, such as the hundreds of satellites used for communication and surveillance.

    "SpaceCom will ensure that America's dominance in space is never threatened," Mr Trump said.

    "This is a landmark day, one that recognizes the centrality of space to America's security and defence," he said.

    Although there is already an Air Force focused on space warfare, the new command will be developing specialised systems and preparation for "Star Wars"-type showdowns.

    Air Force General John Raymond, who will lead the new command, said US adversaries are seeking to develop their military capabilities in space.

    "I'm convinced that space is a war-fighting domain. I'm convinced that our way of life and our way of war depend on space capabilities."

    - BBC

    There is no 'Gay gene'

    A genetic analysis of almost half a million people has concluded there is no single "gay gene".

    The study, published in Science, used data from the UK Biobank and 23andMe, and found some genetic variants associated with same-sex relationships.

    But genetic factors accounted for, at most, 25 percent of same-sex behaviour.

    Advocacy group GLAAD said the study confirmed "no conclusive degree to which nature or nurture influenced how a gay or lesbian person behaves."

    The researchers scanned the genomes - the entire genetic make-up - of 409,000 people signed up to the UK Biobank project, and 68,500 registered with the genetics company 23andMe.

    Participants were also asked whether they had same-sex partners exclusively, or as well as opposite-sex partners.

    The Harvard and MIT researchers concluded genetics could account for between 8-25 percent of same-sex behaviour across the population, when the whole genome is considered.

    Five specific genetic variants were found to be particularly associated with same-sex behaviour, including one linked to the biological pathway for smell, and others to those for sex hormones.

    But together they only accounted for under one percent of same-sex behaviour.

    - BBC