Posted on

Last 2 journalists working for Australian media leave China


The last two journalists working for Australian media in China have left the country after police demanded interviews with them and temporarily blocked their departures, the Australian government, and their employers said Tuesday.

Australian Broadcasting Corp.’s Bill Birtles and The Australian Financial Review’s Michael Smith landed in Sydney after flying from Shanghai on Monday night, both news outlets reported.

Both had sheltered in Australian diplomatic compounds in recent days.

GORDON CHANG WARNS CHINA ‘CONFIGURING ITS MILITARY TO KILL AMERICANS’

Chinese President Xi Jinping attends the closing session of China's National People's Congress in Beijing in May. (AP)

Chinese President Xi Jinping attends the closing session of China’s National People’s Congress in Beijing in May. (AP)

The journalists left after Australia revealed last week that Australian citizen Cheng Lei, a business news anchor for CGTN, China’s English-language state media channel, had been detained.

Both journalists were told they were “persons of interest” in an investigation into Cheng, The Australian Financial Review reported. Seven uniformed police visited each journalist’s home in Beijing and Shanghai at 12:30 a.m. Thursday, the newspaper said.

Australian Embassy officials in Beijing told Birtles last week that he should leave China, ABC reported.

Birtles was due to depart Beijing on Thursday and was holding a farewell party on Wednesday when police came to his apartment and told him he was banned from leaving the country, ABC said. He was told he would be contacted on Thursday to organize a time to be questioned about a “national security case,” his employer said.

Birtles went to the Australian Embassy, where he spent four days while Australian and Chinese officials negotiated. Smith had similarly holed up at the Australian Consulate in Shanghai.

Birtles and Smith both agreed to give police a brief interview in return for being allowed to leave the country.

Foreign Minister Marise Payne confirmed that her government had provided consular support to the two journalists to assist their return to Australia.

“Our embassy in Beijing and consulate-general in Shanghai engaged with Chinese government authorities to ensure their well-being and return to Australia,” she said.

Australia’s travel warning of the risk of arbitrary detention in China “remains appropriate and unchanged,” she added.

ABC news director Gaven Morris said Birtles was brought back to Australia on the Australian government’s advice.

“This bureau is a vital part of the ABC’s international news-gathering effort and we aim to get back there as soon as possible,” Morris said.

INDIAN LAWMAKER ACCUSES CHINESE BORDER TROOPS OF ABDUCTING 5 CIVILIANS

“The story of China, its relationship with Australia and its role in our region and in the world is one of great importance for all Australians and we want to continue having our people on the ground to cover it,” he added.

The newspaper’s editor-in-chief, Michael Stutchbury, and editor, Paul Bailey, described the situation as “disturbing.”

“This incident targeting two journalists, who were going about their normal reporting duties, is both regrettable and disturbing and is not in the interests of a co-operative relationship between Australia and China,” they said in a statement.

Relations between China and Australia were already strained by Australia outlawing covert interference in politics and banning communications giant Huawei from supplying critical infrastructure. They have worsened since the Australian government called for an independent inquiry into the origins of and international responses to the coronavirus pandemic.

Australia’s journalist union, Media Entertainment and Arts Alliance, said China was no longer safe for foreign reporters.

“These outrageous attacks on press freedom place any foreign correspondents reporting from China at risk,” union president Marcus Strom said in a statement.

Birtles told reporters at Sydney’s airport that his departure was a “whirlwind and … not a particularly good experience.”

HONG KONG COPS CRITICIZED INTERNATIONALLY FOLLOWING VIOLENT ARREST OF 12-YEAR-OLD GIRL

“It’s very disappointing to have to leave under those circumstances and it’s a relief to be back in a country with genuine rule of law,” Birtles said.

Smith told his newspaper: “The late-night visit by police at my home was intimidating and unnecessary and highlights the pressure all foreign journalists are under in China right now.”

Smith said at the airport that he had felt “a little bit” threatened in China.

“It’s so good to be home, so happy, I can’t say any more at the moment, it’s such a relief to be home, so really happy,” Smith said.

CLICK HERE TO GET THE FOX NEWS APP

“It was a complicated experience but it’s great to be here,” he added.



Source link

Posted on

Tanzanian miner finds third rare tanzanite gem worth millions after record haul


A small-scale miner from Tanzania made another record discovery of one of the world’s rarest gemstone this month, hauling in a precious, 14-pound stone valued at $2 million, according to a report.

Saniniu Laizer, 52, became an overnight millionaire in June after he sold two violet-blue tanzanite gemstones said to be the largest ever found in the country. Weighing a total of 33 pounds, he sold them for 7.74 billion Tanzanian shillings ($3.4 million U.S. dollars).

Laizer announced he would slaughter one of his 2,000 cows, have a big party, and invest in the local community after finding the two record stones earlier this summer, according to the BBC.

TANZANIAN MINER FINDS RECORD TANZANITE GEMS, BECOMES OVERNIGHT MILLIONAIRE

“There will be a big party tomorrow,” said Laizer, from the Manyara region. “I want to build a shopping mall and a school. I want to build this school near my home. There are many poor people around here who can’t afford to take their children to school.”

“I am not educated but I like things run in a professional way. So I would like my children to run the business professionally,” he continued.

The BBC reported that he has four wives and more than 30 children.

Saniniu Laizer poses with two rough Tanzanite stones back in June, said to be the largest ever found in the country.

Saniniu Laizer poses with two rough Tanzanite stones back in June, said to be the largest ever found in the country.
(TANZANIA MINISTRY OF MINERALS)

While a party isn’t on his schedule this time around, Laizer said on Monday he would continue with his dream in using the money to build a school, as well as a health facility in his community — located in the northern Manyara region.

SCHOOLGIRLS IN INDIA DISCOVER ASTEROID AFTER TRAWLING THROUGH SPACE IMAGES

Tanzanite is said to be a gemstone found only in the northern region of the country. It’s reportedly used to make ornaments — with its rarity defined by how clear or well defined the color is.

Tanzania President John Magufuli had ordered the military to build a wall surrounding a Manyara mining site in 2017 — believed to be the world’s only source of tanzanite — with its supply estimated to be depleted within 20 years, a geologist told the news organization.

Last year, Tanzania set up trading centers to allow artisanal miners, like Laizer, to sell their gems and gold to the government. Many reportedly mine by hand without any affiliation to mining companies. Following his recent discovery, Laizer encouraged other small scale miners to work for the government.

CLICK HERE TO GET THE FOX NEWS APP

“Selling to the government means there are no shortcuts,” he said during a ceremony celebrating his find in the northern Mirerani mine, according to the BBC. “They are transparent.”



Source link

Posted on

Mexican president claims rivals would take over if he self-isolated, as experts decry coronavirus response


Get all the latest news on coronavirus and more delivered daily to your inbox. Sign up.

Mexico President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador has remained steadfast against sweeping restriction measures that could help the spread of the coronavirus in his country.

This weekend, he balked at the idea of self-isolating, claiming that his rivals would use that time to overpower him politically and take control of the government.

Mexico's President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador arrives at his daily news conference at the presidential palace in Mexico City, early, Tuesday, March 24, 2020.

Mexico’s President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador arrives at his daily news conference at the presidential palace in Mexico City, early, Tuesday, March 24, 2020.
(AP)

“Do you know what the conservatives want? For me to isolate myself (but) there would be no leadership (of the country) or there would be their leadership because in politics there are no power vacuums – the voids are filled and that’s what they want, for there to be a vacuum so that they can take control … in an irresponsible way,” he said Sunday, according to the Mexico Daily News.

CLICK HERE FOR FULL CORONAVIRUS COVERAGE

The 66-year-old president has sparked a furor in recent weeks for not imposing stricter measures against COVID-19 and hugging followers and saying religious medals would protect him.

He flew commercial to the western state of Sinaloa on Sunday, where he shook hands with residents, including the mother of convicted drug lord Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzmán Loera.

“Coronavirus isn’t the plague,’’ the president declared in a video message on social media.

“Those of us who have an important function, a basic one, can go out to the street and work. … You can’t close a tortilla shop, doctors and nurses have to keep working, the police [too] so that there are no robberies,” he said.

A bus commuter wears a face mask amid the spread of the new coronavirus in Mexico City, Tuesday, March 31, 2020. Mexico's government has broadened its shutdown of “non essential activities,” and prohibited gatherings of more than 50 people as a way to help slow down the spread of the coronavirus. The one-month emergency measures will be in effect from March 30 to April 30. 

A bus commuter wears a face mask amid the spread of the new coronavirus in Mexico City, Tuesday, March 31, 2020. Mexico’s government has broadened its shutdown of “non essential activities,” and prohibited gatherings of more than 50 people as a way to help slow down the spread of the coronavirus. The one-month emergency measures will be in effect from March 30 to April 30. 
(AP)

Mexico has only just started taking tougher measures, including late Monday night banning non-essential work in the public sector and gatherings of more than 50 people.

As of Wednesday morning, Mexico had reported more than 1,200 confirmed cases and at least 27 deaths.

MEXICO’S LÓPEZ OBRADOR SHAKES HANDS WITH MOTHER OF ‘EL CHAPO’ DESPITE CORONAVIRUS WARNINGS, VIDEO SHOWS

Some experts warn the sprawling country of 129 million is acting too late and that the government figures likely underestimate the true number of infections.

A woman walks past a sign that reads in Spanish "Stay home" in Mexico City, Tuesday, March 31, 2020. Mexico's government has broadened its shutdown of "non-essential activities," and prohibited gatherings of more than 50 people as a way to help slow down the spread of the new coronavirus. The one-month emergency measures will be in effect from March 30 to April 30. 

A woman walks past a sign that reads in Spanish “Stay home” in Mexico City, Tuesday, March 31, 2020. Mexico’s government has broadened its shutdown of “non-essential activities,” and prohibited gatherings of more than 50 people as a way to help slow down the spread of the new coronavirus. The one-month emergency measures will be in effect from March 30 to April 30. 
(AP)

Mexico has done far less testing than many other countries — around 10,000 tests. New York state alone had performed more than 205,000 tests by Tuesday. There were also signs the disease may be far more advanced in Mexico than the limited testing shows. Three state governors have already tested positive for coronavirus.

“Politics is very, very much involved in the decision-making going on right now,” said Janine Ramsey, an infectious disease expert who works for Mexico’s National Public Health Institute, a federal research agency, and has spent 35 years of her public health career in Mexico.

“Mexico, politically, does not value scientific evidence. Why? Because it takes decision-making away from the politicians,” Ramsey said.

The Mexican government has defended its policies, saying that its robust health surveillance system gives it a good idea of how the epidemic is evolving and that health experts are charting the country’s fight against the virus. Its focus now, it says, is keeping people at home to avoid a rapid spread that would quickly overwhelm the health care system.

“For most of us, especially those of us who work with infectious pathogens, there is absolutely no excuse not to test because you cannot predict a) the response, b) the velocity of transmission, or c) the vulnerability of people” to becoming infected or to infecting others, she said.

“February and March is when we should have been testing everybody.”

CLICK HERE FOR THE FOX NEWS APP

But many are taking their cues from the president himself, who had this to say at a news conference Tuesday: “Soon, very soon there’s going to be the day of hugs and kisses in all the public plazas.”

“We’re going to hug because we’re going to overcome this coronavirus crisis and the economic crisis and the social welfare crisis,” he said.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.



Source link

Posted on

Kim Jong Un rides white horse through historic battlefields, experts see symbolism


North Korea’s Kim Jong Un was photographed on Wednesday riding a white horse through historic battlefields in the country and an expert on the region called the photo-op an attempt by the leader to send a clear message: the opportunity for diplomacy is nearing an end.

John Delury, an East Asia scholar at Yonsei University in Seoul, told Reuters that Kim’s ride is a “message to buckle up, it’s going to be a big year for us next year.”

He continued, “And not a year of diplomacy and summitry, but rather of national strength.”

This undated photo provided on Wednesday by the North Korean government shows North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, center, with his wife Ri Sol Ju, right, riding on white horse during his visit to Mount Paektu, North Korea. (Korean Central News Agency/Korea News Service via AP)

This undated photo provided on Wednesday by the North Korean government shows North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, center, with his wife Ri Sol Ju, right, riding on white horse during his visit to Mount Paektu, North Korea. (Korean Central News Agency/Korea News Service via AP)

Photos of Kim on the horse were released a day after the country’s foreign ministry issued a thinly veiled threat to the U.S. over its “hostile policies” of denuclearization. The ministry criticized President Trump over his calls for more talks and called the overtures nothing more than a “foolish” trick.

This undated photo provided on Wednesday, Dec. 4, 2019, by the North Korean government shows North Korean leader Kim Jong Un visits Mount Paektu, North Korea. (Korean Central News Agency/Korea News Service via AP)

This undated photo provided on Wednesday, Dec. 4, 2019, by the North Korean government shows North Korean leader Kim Jong Un visits Mount Paektu, North Korea. (Korean Central News Agency/Korea News Service via AP)

“What is left to be done now is the U.S. option and it is entirely up to the U.S. what Christmas gift it will select to get,” the ministry said.

GET THE FOX NEWS APP

Kim was joined by top military officials during his ride near Mount Paektu. Reuters reported that the leader often rides there during major developments. Reports said Kim said the country needs to get ready for its “revolution.”

Fox News’ Danielle Wallace and the Associated Press contributed to this report



Source link