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“No more freedom”

China’s new national security law goes into effect in Hong Kong

Police officers in Hong Kong stand guard as the first person charged under the new Chinese national security law arrives at a courthouse on Monday. Associated Press/Photo by Vincent Yu

“No more freedom”

HONG KONG: “We have no more freedom in Hong Kong,” said a prayer meeting organizer as a national security law took effect last week for the once independent territory. The law establishes a Committee for Safeguarding National Security under the supervision of China’s central government, working in secret and outside of judicial oversight. The action comes more than two decades before Hong Kong’s autonomy was set to expire in 2047 under the Sino-British Joint Declaration. The new law carries broad definitions of terrorism, subversion, secession, and foreign interference—condemning protesters who seek independence while dismantling the territory’s checks and balances. In response, the U.S. Senate on Thursday unanimously passed legislation to penalize banks doing business with Chinese officials who implement the law.

BELGIUM: One of the world’s smallest countries has the highest COVID-19 death rate in the world: my report on policies that turned some Belgium nursing homes into houses of death.

TURKEY: President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s extensive dam projects have flooded 100 miles of the upper Tigris River, submerging ancient Roman and Neolithic structures and displacing 70,000 people.

Recent military operations in southeastern Turkey and across its border into Iraq have emptied 30 Chaldean-Assyrian villages after most Christians were forced from the region during the Armenian Genocide a century ago.

SYRIA: Russia appears poised to use its veto power to block extending UN Resolution 2504, which expires on Sunday and allows humanitarian access into Syria, where 64 percent of the population needs some form of medical and food assistance.

The U.S. State Department and aid groups are calling for renewing the resolution, which targets aid to areas currently outside the Assad regime’s control. Recent Turkish military buildup in northeast Syria again threatens to violate an agreement signed by Turkey, the United States, and Russia last year. At the same time, Turkey has launched bombing campaigns in northern Iraq that threaten returning Yazidis.

UNITED STATES: Former advisory board members, including two U.S. ambassadors, have sued Trump appointee Michael Pack, the new director of the U.S. Agency for Global Media. Pack’s June takeover at the agency led off with firing the heads of all U.S.-funded networks and disbanding their advisory boards. The lawsuit alleges those actions are unlawful, and the networks—including Voice of America and Radio Free Asia—“can only be effective in countering disinformation and censorship if they are rightly perceived as independent, professional, and fact-driven—not as official mouthpieces for some partisan agenda.”

ITALY: He never learned English and rarely left Rome, but composer Ennio Morricone was widely known by American audiences for scoring Spaghetti Westerns and Hollywood hits like The Untouchables and The Mission. He died on Monday in Rome at 91.

LEBANON hosted its annual music festival in the ancient city of Baalbek amid the Roman columns but without an audience for the first time— “an act of cultural resilience” to the coronavirus pandemic as well as the country’s economic meltdown. Watch and listen.

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Mindy Belz

Mindy wrote WORLD Magazine’s first cover story in 1986 and went on to serve as international editor, editor, and senior editor. She has covered wars in Syria, Afghanistan, Africa, and the Balkans, and she recounts some of her experiences in They Say We Are Infidels: On the Run From ISIS With Persecuted Christians in the Middle East. Mindy resides with her husband, Nat, in Asheville, N.C.



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