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Hong Kong protesters pause to mark September 11

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HONG KONG (Reuters) – Hong Kong activists called off protests on Wednesday in remembrance of the September 11, 2001 attacks on the United States and denounced a Chinese state newspaper report that they were planning “massive terror” in the Chinese-ruled city.

Hong Kong has been rocked by months of sometimes violent unrest, prompted by anger over planned legislation to allow extraditions to China, but broadening into calls for democracy and for Communist rulers in Beijing to leave the city alone.

“Anti-government fanatics are planning massive terror attacks, including blowing up gas pipes, in Hong Kong on September 11,” the Hong Kong edition of the China Daily said on its Facebook page, alongside a picture of the hijacked airliner attacks on the twin towers in New York.

“The 9/11 terror plot also encourages indiscriminate attacks on non-native speakers of Cantonese and starting mountain fires.”

The post said “leaked information was part of the strategy being schemed by radical protesters in their online chat rooms”.

The former British colony of Hong Kong returned to China in 1997 under a “one country, two systems” formula that guarantees freedoms not enjoyed on the mainland, including an independent legal system, triggering the anger over the extradition bill.

Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam has said she will withdraw the bill but many Hong Kong residents fear Beijing is steadily eroding the autonomy of the Asian financial hub.

China denies meddling and has accused the United States, Britain and others of fomenting the unrest.

“We don’t even need to do a fact check to know that this is fake news,” said one protester, Michael, 24, referring to the China Daily post. “The state media doesn’t care about its credibility. Whenever something they claimed to have heard on WhatsApp or friends’ friends, they will spread it right away.”

The protesters called off action on Wednesday.

“In solidarity against terrorism, all forms of protest in Hong Kong will be suspended on Sept. 11, apart from potential singing and chanting,” they said in a statement.

The China Daily report was worrying, said another protester, Karen, 23. “When they try to frame the whole protest with those words, it alarms me,” she said. “They are predicting rather than reporting. I think people calling it off today is a nice move.”

Lam said in a speech on Wednesday that Hong Kong was grappling with significant challenges, from the trade dispute between China and the United States to the recent unrest.

“My fervent hope is that we can bridge our divide by upholding the one country, two systems principle, and the Basic Law, and through the concerted efforts of the government and the people of Hong Kong,” she told business leaders.

The Basic Law is Hong Kong’s mini-constitution.

Hong Kong airline Cathay Pacific Airways Ltd has become the biggest corporate casualty of the unrest after China demanded it suspend staff involved in, or who support, the protests.

Cathay Pacific said on Wednesday inbound traffic to Hong Kong in August fell 38% and outbound traffic 12% compared with a year earlier, and that it did not anticipate September to be any less difficult.

Joshua Wong, one of the prominent leaders of the 2014 “Umbrella” pro-democracy movement which brought key streets in Hong Kong to a standstill for 79 days, said in Berlin that the fight for democracy was an uphill battle.

“I hope one day not only Hong Kong people, but also people in mainland China, can enjoy freedom and democracy,” he said.

The protests spread to the sports field on Tuesday, as many football fans defied Chinese law to boo the national anthem ahead of a soccer World Cup qualifier against Iran.

Several peaceful protests are planned for the next few days, combining with celebrations marking the Mid-Autumn Festival.

Reporting by Jessie Pang, Farah Master, Jamie Freed and Michelle Martin in Berlin; Writing by Nick Macfie; Editing by Mark Heinrich



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Ian Lasic-Ellis – Floor Exercise – 2020 Winter Cup Jr. Prelims and Elite Team Cup

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Score: 13.250 (5.1, 8.150)
Feb. 20, 2020 – Westgate Resort – Las Vegas, Nev.

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Fed’s Bostic says ‘we won’t have to do anything’ on interest rates

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Atlanta Federal Reserve President Raphael Bostic became the latest central banker to advocate a hold on interest rates, telling CNBC that he doesn’t see a need to change given current conditions.

Despite the market pricing in up to two cuts this year, Bostic said that unless there’s a significant shift in economic performance, the Fed should stay put.

“There are many different scenarios about what’s going to happen between now and say June or July. My baseline expectations are that the economy is not going to see rising risks and it’s going to stay stable, so we won’t have to do anything,” he told CNBC’s Steve Liesman during a “Squawk Box” interview.

“But my focus is on today and what we know today and what we know next week as the data comes in. If we see more weakness than expected, then I’d be open to moving. But that’s not my expectation,” he added.

Bullard, Clarida also see no cuts

Though he is not a voter this year on the Federal Open Market Committee, Bostic gets input into the decision-making process.

Earlier Friday, St. Louis Fed President James Bullard also told CNBC he does not see a likelihood of a cut, and both speakers come a day after Fed Vice Chairman Richard Clarida also told the network that he’s not anticipating a change.

Markets, though, are not on the same page.

Traders in the fund funds futures market are indicating a 54% chance of a rate cut by June and a 59% probability of two moves by the end of the year, despite consistent statements from Fed officials indicating otherwise. Markets fear that the coronavirus could continue to spread and dent global economic growth, necessitating a further easing on policy beyond the three cuts the Fed implemented in 2019.

Like Bullard, Bostic said he expects the coronavirus to be “a short-term hit” to the economy.

“I have no impulses really to think that we need to do anything differently with our policy stance than we are doing today,” Bostic said.

The Fed currently targets its benchmark overnight borrowing rate in a range between 1.5%-1.75%. The FOMC has kept the rate steady the past two meetings after last year’s cuts.



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TV Promo Cues: Poley Production Music

℗ 2018 Poley Records

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