• China converts Hong Kong hotel into new national security office
    HONG KONG, July 8 (Reuters): China opened its powerful national security office in Hong Kong on Wednesday, turning a hotel near a city-centre park that has been one of the most popular venues for pro-democracy protests into its new headquarters.   The office, which operates beyond the scrutiny of local courts or other institutions, will oversee the Hong Kong government's enforcement of the sweeping national security legislation that Beijing imposed on the city last
  • U.S. envoy plays down expectations for North Korea meet, but ready to talk
    SEOUL, July 8 (Reuters): U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Stephen Biegun rejected on Wednesday reports that he was seeking to meet North Korean officials during a visit to South Korea this week but reiterated that the United States is open to resuming talks.   The U.S. point man for North Korea, Biegun was in Seoul for meetings with South Korean officials, overshadowed by North Korea's insistence that it has no intention of returning to denuclearisation negotiations a
  • Pak PM urges world community to share info on COVID-19 strategies as tally rises to 239,225
    Islamabad, July 8 (PTI): Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan on Wednesday urged the world community to share information on their strategies to deal with the coronavirus, as the country's COVID-19 death toll reached near 5,000-mark.   Addressing a virtual summit of the International Labour Organisation, Khan said that the constant exchange of ideas will help soften the coronavirus impact on labourers.   He said that the entire world was praying for a vaccine bu
  • Pompeo says China took incredibly aggressive action in recent clash with India
    WASHINGTON, July 8 (Reuters): U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Wednesday accused China of taking "incredibly aggressive action" in a recent clash with India over a disputed section of the nuclear-armed neighbors' border, saying the incident could not be assessed in isolation.   On the night of June 15, Chinese forces and Indian troops fought for hours with rods and clubs, resulting in a dramatic escalation that left 20 Indian soldiers killed, with so
  • Working in shops and cafes, refugees hardest hit by coronavirus jobs cuts
    WASHINGTON, July 8 (Thomson Reuters Foundation): Often working in shops, cafes and factories, refugees have been harder hit by coronavirus-triggered job cuts than citizens in their host countries, U.S. development groups said on Wednesday.   Refugees were 60% more likely to lose jobs or income due to the pandemic, found a study covering eight countries - Colombia, Ethiopia, Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon, Peru, Turkey and Uganda - that host about 37% of the world's refugees.
  • Millions of Australians brace for lockdowns amid Melbourne virus outbreak
    SYDNEY, July 8 (Reuters): Five million Australians face a heavy police clampdown from midnight on Wednesday to contain a flare-up of coronavirus cases, with checkpoints to be set up around Melbourne to ensure people stay at home.   State police said they would conduct random checks of vehicles on major roads surrounding the country's second most populous city, creating a "ring of steel" as partial lockdowns are reinstated for six weeks to stem a surge in i
  • IMF head urges pandemic response that tackles climate crisis
    GENEVA, July 8 (Reuters): International Monetary Fund Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva urged policymakers on Wednesday to use their response to the coronavirus pandemic to tackle climate change.   "Looking ahead, policies should lay the foundation for a low-carbon, resilient recovery that would create millions of jobs while help address the climate crisis," she told an International Labour Organization conference.   "We are especially con
  • EU reaches deals with Roche, Merck for supply of COVID-19 drugs - source
    BRUSSELS, July 8 (Reuters): The European Commission has reached agreements with pharmaceutical companies Roche and Merck KGaA  to supply experimental drugs that can be used to treat COVID-19 patients, a commission source told Reuters on Wednesday.   The EU executive agreed to the deal to source Roche's RoActemra and Merck's Rebif for supply to any 27 EU members states willing to buy them, the source who is familiar with the issue told Reuters. The pers
  • Dozens injured in Belgrade rioting sparked by new virus lockdown
    BELGRADE, July 8 (Reuters): Dozens of demonstrators and police were injured in overnight rioting in Belgrade, triggered when a crowd stormed Serbia's parliament in protest at plans to reimpose a lockdown following a surge in coronavirus cases.   Footage showed police kicking and beating people with truncheons while protesters pelted officers with stones and bottles, after thousands chanting for the resignation of President Aleksandar Vucic gathered outside the build
  • Landslide in China's Hubei buries nine after heaviest rain in years
    BEIJING, July 8 (Reuters): A landslide buried nine people on Wednesday in China's Hubei province, the People's Daily newspaper reported, after some of the heaviest rain in decades brought floods that have killed more than 100 people.   The landslide occured in Huangmei County in the early hours and efforts were being made to rescue the people, the newspaper said.   From June 1 to July 7, accumulated rainfall in the regions of Hubei, Anhui, Zhejiang an
  • China says U.S. holds key to breaking stalemate on Korean Peninsula
    BEIJING, July 8 (Reuters): China said on Wednesday the United States holds the key to breaking the stalemate on the Korean Peninsula, amid renewed tensions as Pyongyang refuses to return to denuclearisation talks with Washington.   Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian made the remarks during a press briefing in Beijing.   U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Stephen Biegun earlier on Wednesday rejected reports that he was seeking to meet North Korean offi
  • In Africa, lack of coronavirus data raises fears of "silent epidemic"
    NAIROBI, July 8 (Reuters): When the new coronavirus hit Tanzania in mid-April, President John Magufuli called for three days of national prayer to seek God’s protection from the scourge. Barely a month later, he claimed victory over the disease and invited tourists to return to his East African nation.   His rush to reopen came despite alarm from the World Health Organization (WHO) over an almost total lack of information on the spread of the virus in the country
  • In Africa, lack of coronavirus data raises fears of "silent epidemic"
    NAIROBI, July 8 (Reuters): When the new coronavirus hit Tanzania in mid-April, President John Magufuli called for three days of national prayer to seek God’s protection from the scourge. Barely a month later, he claimed victory over the disease and invited tourists to return to his East African nation.   His rush to reopen came despite alarm from the World Health Organization (WHO) over an almost total lack of information on the spread of the virus in the country
  • China is 'greatest threat' to US, says FBI director
    Washington, July 8 (IANS) Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) Director Christopher Wray has said that acts of espionage and theft by China's government pose the "greatest long-term threat" to the future of the US.   Speaking to the Hudson Institute in Washington, Wray described a multi-pronged disruption campaign. the BBC reported on Wednesday.   He said China had begun targeting Chinese nationals living abroad, coercing their return, and was worki
  • Global COVID-19 cases top 11.7mn: Johns Hopkins University
    Washington, July 8 (IANS) The overall number of global COVID-19 cases has increased to more than 11.7 million, while the deaths have soared to over 543,000, according to the Johns Hopkins University.   On Wednesday morning, the total number of cases stood at 11,798,678 while the fatalities rose to 543,535, the University's Center for Systems Science and Engineering (CSSE) revealed in its latest update.   The US accounted for the world's highest number of i
  • US formally withdraws from WHO
    New Delhi, July 8 (PTI): The Trump administration has formally notified the United Nations of its decision to withdraw the United States from the World Health Organization, officials said, breaking off ties with the global health body amid the expanding coronavirus pandemic.      The US has accused the WHO of siding with China on the outbreak of the virus, which originated in the Chinese city of Wuhan late last year, alleging the health body misled the world result
  • COVID-19 cases hit 5.9 million in Americas, half in Latin America, Caribbean: WHO
    BRASILIA, July 8 (Reuters) - Latin America and the Caribbean now account for 50% of the COVID-19 cases in the Americas, and the number of registered cases continues to accelerate, the World Health Organization’s regional director Carissa Etienne said on Tuesday.   “This is a pandemic of staggering proportions and we have no option but to continue to put all our energy into controlling it,” she said in a virtual briefing from Washington with Pan American Hea
  • As Lebanon crisis spirals, families barter for food on Facebook
    BEIRUT, July 7 (Reuters): One Lebanese woman asked for sugar, milk and soap in exchange for a child's dress. Another wanted canned goods in return for gym equipment.   A 65-year-old seamstress now exchanges her sewing services for food, because her clients can no longer afford to pay her.   Bartering on Facebook has become the last resort for some people in Lebanon, where a financial meltdown has sent prices skyrocketing this year.   "It&#
  • WHO to travellers: keep an eye on 'anywhere and everywhere' COVID-19
    GENEVA, July 7 (Reuters): The World Health Organization on Tuesday urged travellers to wear masks on planes and keep themselves informed as COVID-19 cases surge again in some countries, prompting new restrictions in places like Australia.   Spokeswoman Margaret Harris urged people not to be caught off-guard by resurgent local epidemics and quarantine measures, saying: "If it's anywhere, it's everywhere and people travelling have to understand that."
  • Climate battles are moving into the courtroom, and lawyers are getting creative
    LONDON/WASHINGTON/GENEVA, July 7 (Reuters): Climate change may be having its day in court.   With the slow pace of international climate negotiations, lawyers from Switzerland to San Francisco are increasingly filing lawsuits demanding action.   And they are getting creative -- using new legal arguments to challenge companies and governments before a judge.   Two decades ago, only a handful of climate-related lawsuits had ever been filed worldwide.