Hong Kong locks down Tiananmen vigil park amid tight security, arrests organizer

By Clare Jim and Scott Murdoch

HONG KONG (Reuters) -Police blocked off a Hong Kong park to prevent people gathering to commemorate the anniversary of China’s 1989 Tiananmen Square crackdown on Friday and arrested the planned vigil’s organizer.

The ban on the vigil came amid growing concern in the pro-democracy movement and internationally about the suppression of the semi-autonomous city’s traditional freedoms, notably a national security law imposed by Beijing last year.

The annual June 4 vigil is usually held in the former British colony’s Victoria Park, with people gathering to light candles for the pro-democracy demonstrators killed by Chinese troops in Beijing 32 years ago.

This year, with thousands of police deployed across the city, some marked the anniversary in churches or at home amid fears of being arrested.

In the working class district of Mong Kok, minor scuffles broke out and police arrested one person. As night fell, police cleared people from around Victoria Park as they walked with their phone lights on.

“Being able to have a memory is a basic human right. Taking that away is beyond anyone’s authority,” District Councilor Derek Chu told Reuters. “We need to remember those people who have been sacrificed for democracy in the past.”

Early on Friday, police arrested Chow Hang Tung, vice-chairwoman of the Hong Kong Alliance in Support of Patriotic Democratic Movements of China, for promoting an unauthorized assembly.

“She only wanted to go to Victoria Park, light a candle and commemorate,” Chiu Yan Loy, executive member of the Alliance, told Reuters.

He said believed her arrest was meant to strike fear into those planning to attend.

Chow told Reuters earlier this week that June 4 was a test for Hong Kong “of whether we can defend our bottom line of morality”.

The Alliance’s chairman, Lee Cheuk-yan, is in jail over an illegal assembly.

Authorities warned of more arrests and said that anyone who took part in an unauthorized assembly could face up to five years in jail.

Police cordoned off most of the downtown park, including football pitches and basketball courts. They also conducted stop-and-search checks across the city, with officers posted at three cross-harbour tunnels.

The heightened vigilance from authorities was a marked departure from Hong Kong’s freedoms of speech and assembly, bringing the global financial hub closer in line with mainland China’s strict controls on society, activists say.

Police did not say whether commemorating Tiananmen would breach the new national security law.

“From the bottom of my heart, I must say I believe Hong Kong is still a very safe and free city,” senior superintendent Liauw Ka-kei told reporters, saying police had no option but to enforce the law.

Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam has only said that citizens must respect the law, as well as the Communist Party, which this year celebrates its 100th anniversary. June 4 commemorations are banned in mainland China.

China has never provided a full account of the 1989 violence in Beijing’s Tiananmen Square. The death toll given by officials days later was about 300, most of them soldiers, but rights groups and witnesses say thousands of people may have perished.


At the United States consulate and European Union office in Hong Kong, candles flickered at windows throughout the buildings. Seven churches that arranged to hold memorial masses were full, according to their Facebook pages, with some of the congregation holding white flowers and lighting candles.

One church on Hong Kong island quickly reached its 30% capacity set by coronavirus restrictions and opened up its courtyard to accommodate more people.

Jailed activist Jimmy Sham said via his Facebook page he planned to “light a cigarette at 8pm”.

“We do not see the hope of democracy and freedom in a leader, a group, or a ceremony. Every one of us is the hope of democracy and freedom,” he said.

Last year, thousands in Hong Kong defied the ban on marking the Tiananmen anniversary.

Prominent democracy activist Joshua Wong received a 10-month prison sentence last month for participating in the 2020 vigil, while three others got four-to six-month sentences. Twenty more are due in court on June 11 on similar charges.

(Additional reporting by Jessie Pang, James Pomfret, Pak Yiu and Scott Murdoch and Hong Kong newsroom; Writing by Marius Zaharia and Anne Marie Roantree; Editing by Robert Birsel, Mark Heinrich and Angus MacSwan)

Jim Bakker, 58 years of Ministry and following the call of God

Jim Bakker at his home office in the Ozark Mountains

By Kami Klein

Jim Bakker, the early years of ministry

Jim Bakker, the early years of ministry

58 Years ago God called Jim Bakker into His service and Pastor has never forgotten the mission: to preach, to teach, to spread the message of God’s word to anyone who would hear him.  His life became a story of restoration that has inspired millions of people around the world! Through God’s visions and Pastor’s obedience, the new age of Christian Television was born!  Today this valuable communication brings the love of Jesus, the forgiveness, the restoration and the Power of our Lord to homes in this nation and around the globe. Through Pastor Jim’s faith, and the Glory of God’s mercy, a platform for today’s prophets exist unlike any other.  

Here at Morningside, a place of worship and fellowship is the home of “The Jim Bakker Show,” which is seen around the world. On this show, the most anointed visionaries and prophets have a platform to speak and teach.  From the blessings of God, this valuable ministry has grown.  

Lori's House at Morningside

Lori’s House at Morningside

On the 4th of July 2015, another of Jim and Lori Bakker’s prophesied visions from God opened at Morningside. “Lori’s House”, a beautiful home built in Peaceful Valley was created to help pregnant Mothers that were in desperate need.  This amazing place not only saves babies that might be aborted but changes the life of the entire family. God works through Lori’s House to shine a light on the blessings of life and this special ministry continues to grow. Through God’s hand and the generosity of believers and partners with this ministry, this dream was fulfilled and continues to honor the Lord.  

Walk of Faith to Prayer Mountain Chapel - Morningside

Walk of Faith to Prayer Mountain Chapel – Morningside

This week Pastor’s vision of revival, prayer and worship atop tranquil Prayer Mountain will begin to unfold.  Prayer Mountain Chapel will be open as a place of worship and prayer that will fill these Ozark Mountains. The time has come for Morningside to continue the teachings from God’s word and allow His Wisdom and Grace back to the church! Prayer Mountain Chapel will offer communion, personal prophecy, anointing, and the warmth of fellowship with someone there 24 hours a day to pray with you. 

Pastor Jim has spent many hours on Prayer mountain and from the deep communion he has had with God, he saw this beautiful Chapel and a peaceful path leading to it called “The Walk of Faith.”  For almost 6 decades, Jim Bakker, even throughout the most difficult years of his life, has maintained his faith in our Lord Jesus Christ. Morningside celebrates the founder of this ministry and the millions who have come to know Jesus because he has dared to follow and learn from the path God set him upon that began so long ago. 

Jim Bakker and President Ronald Reagan

Jim Bakker and President Ronald Reagan

If you would like to honor Pastor Jim Bakker and his 58 years in ministry please follow this link to our $ 58-anniversary page to find wonderful products that are now being offered.  Your gifts go to keeping the Jim Bakker Show, Lori Bakker’s show, “Life with Lori” and the PTL Television Network on the air as well as continue the ministry of Lori’s House, Prayer Mountain and Morningside.   

You are Pastor Jim Bakker’s family in Christ that has seen God’s vision for this ministry come into reality!  Thank you for your support and for the friendship you have given to this faithful man of God!


A year later, Thailand’s rescued ‘cave boys’ honor diver who died

Members of the Wild Boars soccer team pose for a photo during their return to the Tham Luang caves, where they were trapped in a year ago, in Chiang Rai, Thailand, June 24, 2019. REUTERS/Soe Zeya Tun

By Prapan Chankaew

CHIANG RAI, Thailand (Reuters) – A Thai soccer team trapped in a cave last year for 17 days returned there on Monday to perform Buddhist rituals honoring a former navy diver killed in the dramatic effort to rescue them that captivated the world.

A year after their ordeal, the team of 12, wearing yellow T-shirts, accompanied by their coach, gave alms to monks in honor of Sergeant Saman Kunan, who died while he worked underwater.

“I want to thank Sergeant Sam,” Ekkapol Chantawong, assistant coach of the Wild Boars soccer team, told Reuters Video News, as the group placed flowers before a portrait of the diver, set beside a row of shaven-headed monks in orange robes.

“Without him, I and the boys would not be standing here.”

The team, aged between 11 and 16, were trapped with their coach on June 23, 2018 when a rainy season downpour flooded the tunnels of a cave complex they were exploring in the northern province of Chiang Rai.

The race to rescue them gripped public attention as experts from around the world volunteered to help.

Saman Kunan, a former member of an elite Thai Navy SEAL unit, died on the night of July 5 after entering the cave to place oxygen tanks along a potential exit route.

Saman’s wife, Waleeporn Kunan, said the boys always expressed their gratitude to her when they crossed paths in the district where they all live.

“Every time they see me, they would run over just like back then right after their rescue,” she said.

The boys received soccer shirts and offers of tours and match tickets as their rescue unfolded during the World Cup.

A year later, fascination with the saga has yet to die down.

Netflix said in April it had signed a deal to make a miniseries about the rescue, to be directed by “Crazy Rich Asians” director Jon M. Chu and Nattawut “Baz” Poonpiriya.

Two books about the rescue have been published, and a feature film by British-Thai director Tom Waller, “The Cave”, wrapped shooting in December, the Hollywood Reporter has said.

The boys, regarded as national treasures in Thailand, declined to be interviewed and referred questions to their soccer coach.

“Life is the same but now more people know about me,” said Ekkapol, who founded a new soccer team, Ekkapol Academy, for underprivileged and stateless children.

Ekkapol, who is from a minority group in Myanmar, was granted Thai citizenship after the rescue, as were several of the rescued boys who were also stateless.

“The football team is to encourage the boys, especially the border boys, to have somewhere they can play football. To have their own field and a brighter future,” he said.

(Reporting by Prapan Chankaew, Panu Wongcha-um and Panarat Thepgumpanat; editing by Darren Schuettler and Clarence Fernandez)

Bells and sirens as Japan marks tsunami anniversary, pledges recovery

People pray to mourn victims at 2:46 PM (05:46 GMT), the time when the magnitude 9.0 earthquake struck off Japan's coast in 2011, in Iwaki, Fukushima prefecture, Japan March 11, 2019, to mark the eighth year anniversary of the earthquake and tsunami that killed thousands and set off a nuclear crisis. Kyodo/via REUTERS

TOKYO (Reuters) – Bells rang and sirens sounded on Monday as Japan observed a moment of silence to commemorate the eighth anniversary of a massive earthquake and tsunami that left more than 20,000 people dead or missing, and triggered triple nuclear meltdowns.

The quake of magnitude nine on March 11, 2011 struck north of the Japanese capital, unleashing a tsunami that engulfed large swathes of the Pacific coast and caused the world’s worst nuclear accident in 25 years.

A woman faces the sea to pray while mourning the victims of the March 11, 2011 earthquake and tsunami disaster, in Iwaki, Fukushima prefecture, Japan March 11, 2019. Mandatory credit Kyodo/via REUTERS

A woman faces the sea to pray while mourning the victims of the March 11, 2011 earthquake and tsunami disaster, in Iwaki, Fukushima prefecture, Japan March 11, 2019. Mandatory credit Kyodo/via REUTERS

“Even now, 14,000 people are enduring protracted, inconvenient lives in such places as temporary housing,” Prime Minister Shinzo Abe told a memorial service in Tokyo.

“We will provide seamless support … and accelerate reconstruction.”

At the ceremony, Yuki Takahashi, who lost his mother in the tsunami, said, “Keeping in mind precious lives that were lost, I’ll keep on going to pass on lessons learned from the disaster.”

In a message to the dead, Takahashi, 41, added, “I’ll no longer shed tears. Please watch over us as we move toward reconstruction.”The dismantling of Tokyo Electric Power Co’s Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant, the decontamination of affected areas, and compensation are estimated to cost 21.5 trillion yen ($193.3 billion).

Earthquakes are common in Japan, one of the world’s most seismically active areas, situated on the “Ring of Fire” arc of volcanoes and oceanic trenches that partly encircles the Pacific Ocean.

(Reporting by Kiyoshi Takenaka; Editing by Clarence Fernandez)

Five years on, MH370 families band together to seek closure

FILE PHOTO: A woman leaves a message of support and hope for the passengers of the missing Malaysia Airlines MH370 in central Kuala Lumpur March 16, 2014. REUTERS/Damir Sagolj

By Rozanna Latiff

KUALA LUMPUR (Reuters) – Five years ago, their loved ones boarded a plane and vanished.

The group of Malaysians meet about once a month – usually at a coffee shop or a home in Kuala Lumpur – to support each other and try to keep missing Malaysian Airlines flight MH370 in the public eye.

Their relatives were among the 239 people onboard the Boeing 777 when it vanished enroute from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing on March 8, 2014 and became the world’s greatest aviation mystery.

Scraps of aircraft debris have washed up on the east African coastline, but two underwater searches in the southern Indian Ocean proved fruitless, leaving few clues as to what happened.

Starved for information and struggling to resume their lives, the families have come to lean on each other for support, said Jacquita Gonzales, whose husband Patrick Gomes was MH370’s inflight supervisor.

“It goes beyond a group waiting for answers,” said Gonzales, a 57-year-old kindergarten teacher who often hosts the group at her home on the outskirts of Kuala Lumpur.

“It has become a family as well, an extended family,” she told Reuters.

For five years the group has campaigned to keep public attention on MH370 and help each other cope with their grief and try to live normal lives by returning to work, raising children and, in Gonzales’ case, battle illness.

She was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2016 for the second time in her life, but it has since gone into remission.

“When I first had cancer, I had my husband for support,” she said.

“This second time, no. But I had a lot of family members around, my friends, my children, and now my MH370 families… so that kept us going.”

In her living room hangs a painting of a blue-and-yellow field – a gift from Calvin Shim, another MH370 next-of-kin, to help her stay calm while recovering from surgery.

Shim, a father of two, said the group helped him to adjust to life as a single parent. His wife, Christine Tan, was a member of the MH370 crew.

“The other families know exactly how each of us feel,” he said during a meeting at Gonzales’ home.

“Emotionally, that’s been a good support and help to us, especially since the plane has not been found,” he added.


In early 2017, Malaysia, China and Australia called off a two-year, $144 million search in the southern Indian Ocean after finding no trace of the plane.

A second three-month search north of the original target area, led by U.S. exploration firm Ocean Infinity, ended similarly in May 2018.

A 495-page report published in July said the Boeing 777 was likely deliberately taken off course but investigators were unable to determine who was responsible.

The Malaysian government has said it would consider resuming a search if new evidence came to light.

Not knowing what happened in the aircraft’s final moments has made closure “impossible”, Gonzales said.

“When friends tell me that their spouses have passed away, I get very jealous because they have closure,” she said.

“They’ve said goodbye. But for us, we’ve not said goodbye at all.”

(Reporting by Rozanna Latiff; Editing by Darren Schuettler)

Anniversary of fatal Charlottesville rally puts city, D.C. on edge

White nationalists participate in a torch-lit march on the grounds of the University of Virginia ahead of the Unite the Right Rally in Charlottesville, Virginia on August 11, 2017. Picture taken August 11, 2017. REUTERS/Stephanie Keith

By Joseph Ax and Makini Brice

(Reuters) – Joan Fenton knows she will not make much money at her Charlottesville gift shop this weekend when the downtown district will be virtually locked down for the anniversary of last year’s deadly white nationalist rally. But like many other owners, she will be open anyway.

“They want to be open in solidarity with the community,” Fenton said. “They feel that not being here is giving in to fear and terror.”

Officials in Charlottesville have vowed a massive police presence – with some 1,000 personnel assigned – to deter any violence.

The “Unite the Right” rally last August, called to protest the removal of a Confederate statue, turned the picturesque Virginia college town into a chaotic scene of street brawls, and one woman was killed when an Ohio man rammed his car into a crowd of counterprotesters.

The organizer of last year’s event, white nationalist Jason Kessler, was denied a permit in Charlottesville this year but has secured permission to hold a demonstration on Sunday in Washington, across the street from the White House.

Washington officials said on Thursday that police were ready for the rally as well as five planned counterprotests that could attract close to 2,000 people in all.

Officers will endeavor to keep the two sides separate, Metropolitan Police Chief Peter Newsham said. Guns will be prohibited from the demonstration area.

Larry Hogan, the Republican governor of neighboring Maryland, said on Friday that “hate has no place in our society,” and that he had directed state agencies to work with their counterparts in Washington and Virginia to ensure the safety of all citizens.

“As we face this invasion of vile and perverted ideology infesting our region, we stand united in our conviction that a diverse and inclusive Maryland is a stronger Maryland,” he said.


Amid continuing controversy over President Donald Trump’s views on race, the events will likely revive memories of his comments after Charlottesville when he said both sides were to blame for the violence. The remarks sparked criticism from across the political spectrum as the Republican president refused to condemn the white nationalists.

In Charlottesville, officials have announced an unprecedented lockdown of the bustling downtown district. Vehicles are prohibited, and pedestrians will be allowed in at only two checkpoints, where police will confiscate contraband.

Prohibited items include everything from metal pipes and swords to fireworks and skateboards.

Guns, however, can still be legally carried. After last year’s violence, the city asked the state legislature to ban firearms from major public events, but the bill failed to advance.

It is not clear whether any white nationalists will come to Charlottesville this weekend, but officials said they were preparing for any contingency. Police were widely criticized after last year’s event, where some officers did not intervene to stop fistfights and other mayhem.

Virginia’s Democratic governor, Ralph Northam, pre-emptively declared a state of emergency on Wednesday, a procedural move that freed up additional resources.

Many business owners have said the plan is too restrictive and will cost them significant revenue on what would normally be a busy summer weekend. Merchants already suffered a downturn after last year’s event; sales tax revenue dropped 11 percent in September 2017 compared with the year before, according to city figures.

(Reporting by Joseph Ax in New York and Makini Brice in Washington; Editing by Cynthia Osterman and Jonathan Oatis)

Israel at 70: the drummer, the baker, the rescuer

Amin Alaev (R), 55 (R), Aviva Alaev (2nd R), 22, Allo Alaev (C), 85, Amanda Alaev (2nd L), 13, Ariel Alaev (L), 51, and Avraham Alaev, 7, pose for a photograph in their rehearsal studio in Rishon Lezion, Israel March 22, 2018. REUTERS/Amir Cohen

By Amir Cohen

TEL AVIV (Reuters) – The cantor’s grandson came from Tajikistan. The baker, who survived Auschwitz, came from Czechoslovakia. The emergency responder is a sixth-generation Jerusalemite. Together in one land, they celebrate Israel’s 70th anniversary on Wednesday evening.

Since 1948, Israel has been home to Jewish immigrants from around the world. And when they arrived in their new home, many stuck to what they knew, and who they knew, handing down family trades from generation to generation.

Dressed in a traditional Bukharan floral gown and embroidered cap, 85-year-old Allo Alaev plays the doyra – a central-Asian frame drum.

The Alaevs came to Israel from Tajikistan in 1991, one family among the 1 million Jews who have moved to Israel from the former Soviet Union since the fall of communism in 1990.

The master percussionist is accompanied by two sons and five of his grandchildren playing rhythmic, fast-tempo folk music on an accordion, violins and a darbuka drum.

“My father was a famous singer there, his father was a cantor and my mother was a famous doyra player. I learned how to play it from her,” said Allo, the family patriarch.

Israel’s cultural mix has been a boon. “It’s only made our music better,” said his son Ariel, 51. “Music has no borders.”

Amit Dagan (R), 55, Hadar Dagan-Abeles (2nd R), 28, Baruch Dagan (C), 45, Bat-Sehva Dagan (2nd L), 77, and Mordechai Dagan, 49, pose for a photograph with a picture of the family's late patriarch Yehezkel Dagan (1937-2016), at Hishtil Nursery in Nehalim, Israel March 20, 2018. REUTERS/Amir Cohen

Amit Dagan (R), 55, Hadar Dagan-Abeles (2nd R), 28, Baruch Dagan (C), 45, Bat-Sehva Dagan (2nd L), 77, and Mordechai Dagan, 49, pose for a photograph with a picture of the family’s late patriarch Yehezkel Dagan (1937-2016), at Hishtil Nursery in Nehalim, Israel March 20, 2018. REUTERS/Amir Cohen


Keeping a family trade has provided a sense of stability for some Jewish immigrants who survived the Holocaust.

Jolanda Wilheim came to Israel in 1949, after she and her husband had been in the Nazi death camp, Auschwitz.

Their daughter, Myriam Zweigenbaum, said her father’s father had owned a bakery before the war, so when her parents moved to a new land where they had nothing else to fall back on, they drew on family knowledge to start their own bakery.

Wilheim, 96, still works in that small bakery in central Israel, with her daughter and two granddaughters.

“I feel I’m living out what it was that the Nazis had tried to cut down more than 70 years ago,” said Wilheim’s granddaughter, Keren Zweigenbaum, 38.

Despite the wars that Israel has fought with its Arab neighbors – and the still-unresolved Israeli-Palestinian conflict – Israel is seen by many Jewish immigrants as a safe haven in the Middle East.

The oldest Israelis remember the anti-Jewish sentiment that swept through the Middle East in the middle of the 20th century, fanned by Arab nationalism and anti-colonialism. The turmoil saw entire Jewish communities leave countries in which they had lived for centuries, even millennia.

That flight only accelerated after the establishment of Israel and the 1948 Israeli-Arab war, which fueled anger across the Arab world at the plight of hundreds of thousands of Palestinians who fled or were driven from their homes during the conflict.

The fate of those Palestinians – the vast majority of whom have never been able to return – is inextricably linked with that of Israel. The events of 70 years ago that Israelis celebrate are cause for mourning among Palestinians, who commemorate them as the “Nakba” or “Catastrophe”.


But not all Israelis are newcomers. David Weissenstern’s ancestors have been in Jerusalem for six generations. They were among the first families who moved out of the walled Old City in the 19th century, and built the first Jewish neighborhoods outside it.

Weissenstern, his son and grandson are part of Zaka, an Israeli emergency rescue and recover organization. Most of its volunteers, like him, are ultra-Orthodox Jews. Often first on the scene of car accidents and militant attacks, one of their tasks is to collect the body parts of victims, to ensure their proper burial.

“Treatment of the dead is one of the greatest Jewish edicts,” said Weissenstern, 71. His family, he said, has always kept communal Jewish edicts of charity and care for the other:

“If you make a dollar more or a dollar less, that’s less important. What matters is what you’ve given to others.”

By contrast, Aharon Ben Hur, 84, only came to Israel in 1951 from Iraq, once home to one of the most vibrant Jewish communities in the Middle East.

Ben Hur’s father and young brother were among 180 Baghdad Jews killed in 1941, in a pogrom known as the Farhud. He now runs two falafel restaurants in Tel Aviv, with his son and grandson.

“In Iraq, as a boy, my parents suffered,” he said. “When we came to Israel, it was another life.”

(Writing by Maayan Lubell; Editing by Stephen Farrell and Kevin Liffey)

China’s Xi talks tough on Hong Kong as tens of thousands call for democracy

Pro-democracy protesters carry a banner which reads "One Country, Two Systems, a cheating for twenty years. Recapture Hong Kong with democracy and self-determination", during a demonstration on the 20th anniversary of the territory's handover from Britain to Chinese rule, in Hong Kong, China July 1, 2017. REUTERS/Bobby Yip

By James Pomfret and Venus Wu

HONG KONG (Reuters) – Chinese President Xi Jinping swore in Hong Kong’s new leader on Saturday with a stark warning that Beijing won’t tolerate any challenge to its authority in the divided city as it marked the 20th anniversary of its return from Britain to China.

Police blocked roads, preventing pro-democracy protesters from getting to the harbor-front venue close to where the last colonial governor, Chris Patten, tearfully handed back Hong Kong to China in the pouring rain in 1997.

Xi said Hong Kong should crack down on moves towards “Hong Kong independence”.

“Any attempt to endanger China’s sovereignty and security, challenge the power of the central government … or use Hong Kong to carry out infiltration and sabotage activities against the mainland is an act that crosses the red line and is absolutely impermissible,” Xi said.

He also referred to the “humiliation and sorrow” China suffered during the first Opium War in the early 1840s that led to ceding Hong Kong to the British.

Hong Kong has been racked by demands for full democracy and, more recently, by calls by some pockets of protesters for independence, a subject that is anathema to Beijing.

Xi’s speech was his strongest yet to the city amid concerns over what some perceive as increased meddling by Beijing, illustrated in recent years by the abduction by mainland agents of some Hong Kong booksellers and Beijing’s efforts in disqualifying two pro-independence lawmakers elected to the city legislature.

“It’s a more frank and pointed way of dealing with the problems,” said former senior Hong Kong government adviser Lau Siu-kai on Hong Kong’s Cable Television. “The central government’s power hasn’t been sufficiently respected… they’re concerned about this.”

The tightly choreographed visit was full of pro-China rhetoric amid a virtually unprecedented security lockdown close to the scene of pro-democracy protests in 2014 that grabbed global headlines with clashes and tear gas rising between waterfront skyscrapers.

Xi did not make contact with the people in the street or with any pro-democracy voices, forgoing an opportunity to lower the political heat through a softer, more nuanced approach.

The hardening stance of the democrats and Beijing could perhaps widen, spawning greater radicalism, though some activists also concede a spreading disillusionment has sapped momentum among the democracy movement since Xi came to power.

Under the mini-constitution, the Basic Law, Hong Kong is guaranteed wide-ranging autonomy for “at least 50 years” after 1997 under a “one country, two systems” formula praised by Xi. It also specifies universal suffrage as an eventual goal.

But Beijing’s refusal to grant full democracy triggered the nearly three months of street protests in 2014 that posed one of the greatest populist challenges to Beijing in decades.


In the afternoon, tens of thousands gathered in sweltering heat in a sprawling park named after Britain’s Queen Victoria, demanding Xi allow universal suffrage. Organizers put the figure at more than 60,000.

“Xi shouldn’t be interfering in Hong Kong too much,” Peter Lau, a 20-year-old university student, said. “Despite him visiting garrisons and muscle-flexing, Hong Kong people’s confidence will never be shaken. Especially for our generation. We should … fight for our freedom.”

Some demonstrators marched with yellow umbrellas, a symbol of democratic activism in the city, and held banners denouncing China’s Communist “one party rule”.

Others criticized China’s Foreign Ministry which on Friday said the “Joint Declaration” with Britain over Hong Kong, a treaty laying the blueprint over how the city would be ruled after 1997, “no longer has any practical significance”.

At the end of the rally a simple white banner read: “Cry in grief for 20 years.”

[For a link to Reuters handover stories, http://reut.rs/2sje26J]

Xi in the morning addressed a packed hall of mostly pro-Beijing establishment figures, after swearing in Hong Kong’s first female leader, Carrie Lam, who was strongly backed by China.

Xi hinted that the central government was in favor of Hong Kong introducing “national security” legislation, a controversial issue that brought nearly half a million people to the streets in protest in 2003 and ultimately forced former leader Tung Chee-hwa to step down.

A small group of pro-democracy activists near the venue were roughed up by a group of men who smashed up some props in ugly scuffles. Nine democracy protesters, including student leader Joshua Wong and lawmaker “long hair” Leung Kwok-hung, were bundled into police vans while several pro-China groups remained, cheering loudly and waving red China flags.

The activists, in a later statement, said the assailants had been “pro-Beijing triad members”.


(Additional reporting by Clare Jim, William Ho, Jasper Ng, Doris Huang and Susan Gao; Editing by Anne Marie Roantree and Nick Macfie)

On 75th anniversary, U.S. veterans recall Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor

Pearl Harbor survivors Delton Walling (C), Gilbert Meyer (R) and U.S. Navy Admiral Margaret Kibben salute during a ceremony honoring the sailors of the USS Utah at the memorial on Ford Island at Pearl Harbor in Honolulu, Hawaii

By Dana Feldman and Hugh Gentry

LOS ANGELES/HONOLULU, Dec 7 (Reuters) – It has been 75 years, but U.S. Navy veteran James Leavelle can still recall watching with horror as Japanese warplanes rained bombs down on his fellow sailors in the surprise attack at Pearl Harbor that brought the United States into World War Two.

Bullets bounced off the steel deck of his own ship, the USS Whitney, anchored just outside Honolulu harbor, but a worse fate befell those aboard the USS Arizona, USS Oklahoma, USS Utah and others that capsized in an attack that killed 2,400 people.

“The way the Japanese planes were coming in, when they dropped bombs, they’d drop them and then circle back,” said Leavelle, a 21-year-old Navy Storekeeper Second Class at the time of the attack.

Leavelle, now 96, was among 30 Pearl Harbor survivors honored at a reception in Los Angeles before heading to Honolulu to mark Wednesday’s 75th anniversary of the attack.

James Leavelle, a 96-year-old Pearl Harbor Survivor, attends an event honoring 30 surviving World War II veterans who will travel to Hawaii to attend ceremonies for the 75th anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor, in Beverly Hills, California, U.S., December 2, 2016. Picture taken December 2, 2016. REUTERS/Ted Soqui

James Leavelle, a 96-year-old Pearl Harbor Survivor, attends an event honoring 30 surviving World War II veterans who will travel to Hawaii to attend ceremonies for the 75th anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor, in Beverly Hills, California, U.S., December 2, 2016. Picture taken December 2, 2016. REUTERS/Ted Soqui

The bombing of Pearl Harbor took place at 7:55 a.m. Honolulu time on Dec. 7, 1941, famously dubbed “a date which will live in infamy” by U.S. President Franklin Roosevelt. Fewer than 200 survivors of the attacks there and on other military bases in Hawaii are still alive.

Wednesday’s commemoration at a pier overlooking the memorial to the sunken USS Arizona built in the harbor is set to begin with a moment of silence at precisely that time.

About 350 World War Two veterans and their families will be serenaded by the Navy’s Pacific Fleet Band with a musical remembrance made bittersweet by the knowledge that every member of the USS Arizona band – one of the best in the Navy – died that day.

Attendees will watch a parade, and two families will participate in a private ceremony in which the ashes of crew
members who survived the attack and later died, will be interred in a turret of the Arizona.

Across the United States on Wednesday, Americans will pause to remember those who died at Pearl Harbor, and the long and difficult war that followed.


The shock of the Pearl Harbor attack is vividly illustrated in an exhibit at Massachusetts’ Museum of World War II, which features relics including a West Point cadet’s letter to his father – then-Brigadier General Dwight Eisenhower – on how to prepare himself for the coming war.

The United States declared war on Japan the next day. Three days after that, Germany’s Adolf Hitler declared war on the United States.

Pearl Harbor survivor Delton Walling walks with family members during a ceremony honoring the sailors of the USS Utah at the memorial on Ford Island at Pearl Harbor in Honolulu, Hawaii December 6, 2016. REUTERS/Hugh Gentry

Pearl Harbor survivor Delton Walling walks with family members during a ceremony honoring the sailors of the USS Utah at the memorial on Ford Island at Pearl Harbor in Honolulu, Hawaii December 6, 2016. REUTERS/Hugh Gentry

Will Lehner, 95, was among those who had a chance to fight back in the 1941 Pearl Harbor attack. The 2nd class naval fireman was working in the boiler room at the USS Ward, patrolling the entrance to the harbor when crew members spotted a Japanese submarine.

“That submarine was on the surface and our skipper didn’t know if it was ours or not,” Lehner, 20 at the time of the attacks, said at the Los Angeles event. “He said: ‘Load your guns.'”

“The first shot went right over the top, the next shot right after it hit that submarine and punched a hole in it.”

After the war, a historical discrepancy nagged at Lehner. The remains of the Japanese submarine had not been recovered, and many historians doubted that it existed. That changed in 2002, when the sub was found.

“For 62 years,” Lehner said, “Nobody believed us.”

For his part, Leavelle would be touched twice by the hand of history. After the war, he became a policeman in Texas. On Nov. 24, 1963, he was the Dallas officer handcuffed to Lee Harvey Oswald when the accused assassin of President John F. Kennedy was shot to death by nightclub owner Jack Ruby.

(Reporting by Dana Feldman in Los Angeles and Hugh Gentry in Honolulu; Writing and additional reporting by Sharon Bernstein; Editing by Peter Cooney)

In San Bernardino, solemn ceremony marks mass shooting

Attendees bow their heads during a memorial event at the Inland Regional Center on the one year anniversary of the San Bernardino attack in San Bernardino, California, U.S.

By Alex Dobuzinskis

SAN BERNARDINO, Calif. (Reuters) – The sound of a bell tolled through loudspeakers on Friday outside a building in Southern California, ringing once for each of the 14 people killed in a mass shooting by Islamist militants one year ago at the site.

More than 200 workers at the Inland Regional Center, a complex in San Bernardino, stood with their heads bowed to mark a moment of silence punctuated by the bell tones.

Many of the same people were at their jobs on Dec. 2, 2015, when married couple Syed Rizwan Farook, 28, and Tashfeen Malik, 29, opened fire in a conference building at the complex during a holiday party and training session for San Bernardino County employees, who were Farook’s co-workers.

It was one of the deadliest acts of violence by militants in the United States since the Sept. 11, 2001, hijacked plane attacks. Twenty-two people were also wounded in San Bernardino.

“It’s a day that marked all of our lives, it destroyed some lives, it destroyed families,” Zen Martinsen, 56, a county worker whose friend lost a niece in the shooting, told reporters after the ceremony. Martinsen worked at a different office.

The ceremony outside the large conference building, which has sat empty behind a chain link fence since the shooting, was one of a day-long series of events in San Bernardino.

San Bernardino County employees Zen Martinsen (L) and Paula Garcia (R), hug during a memorial event at the Inland Regional Center on the one year anniversary of the San Bernardino attack in San Bernardino,

San Bernardino County employees Zen Martinsen (L) and Paula Garcia (R), hug during a memorial event at the Inland Regional Center on the one year anniversary of the San Bernardino attack in San Bernardino, California, U.S. December 2, 2016. REUTERS/Patrick T. Fallon

A private ceremony was organized for family members of victims and survivors of the attack, according to San Bernardino County spokesman David Wert.

The U.S.-born Farook and Malik, a native of Pakistan, died in a shootout with police four hours after the massacre. Authorities have said they were inspired by Islamist extremism.

“Somebody that would take hate and internalize it to such a degree that they felt that they were going to do something that would promote their agenda at the expense of so many innocent people, I was certainly saddened by that,” San Bernardino Mayor R. Carey Davis said on Friday.

FBI investigators are still seeking to answer key questions, such as the location of the married couple’s computer hard drive.

In another symbolic act on Friday, dozen of bicyclists, including many police officers, participated in a bicycle ride of 14 miles (23 km), one mile for each person killed.

In the evening, another San Bernardino event was expected to draw at least 2,000 participants to an arena.

(Additional reporting by Patrick Fallon; Editing by Jonathan Oatis and Alistair Bell)