Hong Kong seethes one year on, but protesters on the back foot

first_imgHong Kong on Tuesday marks a year since pro-democracy protests erupted, but a resumption of city-wide unrest is unlikely as activists reel from mass arrests, coronavirus bans on public gatherings and a looming national security law.Seven months of massive and often violent rallies kicked off on June 9 last year when huge crowds took to the streets to oppose a bill allowing extraditions to mainland China.Battles between police and protesters became routine, leaving in tatters the city’s reputation for stability, and a population divided. Topics : Beyond a withdrawal of the extradition bill, the protest movement’s core demands — such as universal suffrage and an inquiry into police tactics — have been rejected by the city’s leadership and Beijing.Instead, China has unveiled plans to impose a more sweeping law — one that will bypass the city’s legislature entirely — banning subversion, secession, terrorism and foreign interference. China says an anti-subversion law will only target “a small minority” and will restore business confidence. ‘Anti-virus software’In a speech on Monday Zhang Xiaoming, the deputy head of Beijing’s Hong Kong and Macau Affairs Office, likened the law to “anti-virus software”. “Radical separatists have been mistaking the central government’s restraint and forbearance for weakness and timidity,” he said.”They have gone too far”.”No person or organization will succeed in intimidating the (Hong Kong) Government by extreme means,” the city’s pro-Beijing leadership said in a statement on Monday.Opponents fear the law will bring mainland-style political oppression to a business hub supposedly guaranteed freedoms and autonomy for 50 years after its 1997 handover from Britain.”First [Beijing] loses the hearts and minds of Hong Kong’s people and then it seeks to force them to be loyal,” said Kong Tsung-gan, an activist who has published three books on the protest movement.”This is a long-term struggle, the Communist Party is upping the ante, and Hong Kong people will have to be willing to suffer and sacrifice much more than they have up to now to see their way through,” Kong said.Over the last year around 9,000 people have been arrested and more than 1,700 people charged, but by the time the deadly coronavirus hit the city in January, the protest movement was already on the back foot. The virus has made any protest effectively illegal, with emergency laws banning gatherings of more than eight people even though local transmissions have been virtually eradicated.Still, protests have bubbled up again since the security law plans were announced — including tens of thousands defying a ban on a June 4 gathering to mark the anniversary of the Tiananmen crackdown.  Messaging groups used by protesters have called for people to come out in force on Tuesday evening, although locations will only be announced an hour ahead of time. The tactic is a bid to thwart police, who now move swiftly against such gatherings to enforce anti-virus restrictions.Student groups and unions have also announced plans to canvas members over possible strike action in coming days, but Hong Kong’s labor movement has limited influence.”I don’t think the passion has subsided much, but the problem is that many actions are now not allowed in the current circumstances,” Leung Kai-chi, an analyst at the Chinese University, told AFP.last_img read more

LA Lakers’ young core have varying experiences adjusting to NBA schedule

first_imgThe humble pie that D’Angelo Russell ate this season included a few slices. Lakers coach Byron Scott yanked his starting spot 20 games into the season and remained publicly critical of his progress. Kobe Bryant challenged Russell, including calling him out in a post-game speech to the team. Russell also entered his rookie season unaware of how the NBA’s schedule works. “When you’re in high school and college, you got weekends off,” Russell recalled recently. “When I first came in, I was like ‘Do we get Saturday and Sundays off?’ Everyone laughed at me.” The Lakers usually practice on Saturday and play games on Sunday. Hence, Russell’s recent progression before Tuesday’s game against Orlando at Staples Center went beyond establishing consistency with his starting role. Yet, both Lakers second-year forward Julius Randle and second-year guard Jordan Clarkson dismissed the NBA schedule affecting their play. “The season is still the same time,” Randle said. “It’s just the amount of games. We’d rather play games than practice anyway.” Meanwhile, Scott said that Clarkson’s “never out of shape” after routinely beating teammates in conditioning drills. “It’s kind of easier. I don’t have to wake up for class,” said Clarkson, who has reduced his pre-game workout. “I love what I do. It’s definitely refreshing waking up and coming to work every day.” Pointed wordsAs the Lakers appeared to be headed toward an upset win on Sunday over Golden State, Bryant offered pointed words to his teammates.“Beat the (bleep) out of them,” Bryant said, which a fan captured on a cell phone and posted online. Scott said he’s “not surprised” about Bryant’s words considering he has an “80’s mentality.”“I’m looking at the clock thinking the same thing,” Scott said. “You got your foot on their neck. You don’t let it up.” Injury updateScott said that guard Lou Williams could return for Sunday’s game against the New York Knicks at Staples Center after staying sidelined for the past week with a strained left hamstring. But Williams’ return could hinge on if he can complete at least one practice without any setbacks. Scott conceded Williams’ return will result in fewer minutes for Russell and Marcelo Huertas, but Scott has not yet determined specifics. After playing 35 games in his lone season at Ohio State, Russell has experienced adjustments with a schedule that puts higher emphasis on travel and games and than on practice time and recovery. “It’s tough. I don’t really have a routine,” said Russell, who said he has recently taken pre-game naps. “When you get through that one season, you’ll know what to expect next season.”Scott expects that variable accounting for some of the inconsistency attached to his inexperienced roster.“They’ve adjusted OK,” Scott said. “But I think it has been an adjustment.”Scott reported sharing with his players his pre-game routine during his 14-year NBA career. After morning shoot-around, he watched “Young and the Restless” and “All My Children” while avoiding phone calls. Scott then ate lunch, showered and took a two-hour nap before the game. center_img Newsroom GuidelinesNews TipsContact UsReport an Errorlast_img read more