On July 30th, Hong Kong authorities barred Wong and 11 other pro-democracy activists from the elections, which were due to be held in September. Endorsing the decision of its returning officer, the Hong Kong government reiterated in a press release that
upholding the BL [Basic Law] is a fundamental constitutional duty of every LegCo [Legislative Council] Member. People having the following behaviours could not genuinely uphold the BL and could not therefore perform the duties of a LegCo Member, i.e. advocating or promoting Hong Kong independence, self-determination or changing the system of the HKSAR by supporting Hong Kong independence as an option for self-determination; soliciting intervention by foreign governments or political authorities in relation to the HKSAR’s affairs; expressing an objection in principle to the enactment of the National Security Law by the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress and its subsequent promulgation as a national law listed in Annex III to the BL; expressing an intention to exercise the functions of a LegCo Member by indiscriminately voting down any legislative proposals, appointments, funding applications and budgets introduced by the HKSAR Government after securing a majority in the LegCo so as to force the Government to accede to certain political demands; and refusal to recognise the PRC’s exercise of sovereignty over the HKSAR and the HKSAR’s constitutional status as a local administrative region of the PRC.
The polls have been postponed until September 2021 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The National Security Law that was passed at the end of June has been heavily criticized for suppressing Hong Kong’s pro-democracy movement.
“The reason I apply for judicial review is to make clear that the power of the returning officer keeps enlarging, they are just (pursuing a) political mission,” Reuters quoted Wong as saying. If Wong’s challenge is endorsed by the courts, other disqualifications might be similar contested.
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The Foshan Intermediate People’s Court sentenced Canadian citizen Ye Jianhui to death Friday for manufacturing and transporting drugs. It was the fourth death sentence imposed on a Canadian by a Chinese court since Meng Wanzhou, the Chief Financial Officer of Huawei Technologies Company, was arrested in Vancouver in 2018 on a US warrant.
The death penalty came just a day after another Canadian, Xu Weihong, was sentenced to death by the Guangzhou Intermediate People’s Court for making drugs. According to a local report, police found 218 kilograms (481 pounds) of crystal methamphetamine and ecstasy in the room used by Ye and five other men. Among the five Chinese nationals, one of them has been sentenced to death while the others have been sentenced to imprisonment.
Wang Wenbing, the spokesperson of China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, said “[d]rug-related crimes are considered serious crimes worldwide. Chinese law retains the death sentence and controls its application strictly.” He also said, “Chinese law stipulates that every criminal is equal in the application of the law and China’s judicial authorities handle cases involving criminals of different nationalities in accordance with the law.”
John Babcock, the spokesperson of the Canadian Foreign Ministry, said: “Canada requests clemency for all Canadian citizens who have been sentenced to death, and calls on China to grant clemency to Mr Xu.” While tensions between China and Canada over sentencing have risen since Meng’s arrest, China has denied that the cases are linked.
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A US District Court judge on Friday granted the federal government’s request to terminate a set of antitrust rules, the so-called Paramount Decrees, that “for over seventy years have regulated how certain movie studios distribute films to movie theaters.”
The decrees, a result of the landmark 1948 Supreme Court case United States v. Paramount Pictures, Inc., banned Hollywood’s largest studios (including MGM, Paramount, 20th Century Fox, Warner, Universal, and Columbia) from “[controlling] the motion picture industry through their ownership of film distribution and exhibition.” The Court sustained findings that “[the studios] had engaged in a wide-spread conspiracy to illegally fix motion picture prices and monopolize both the film distribution and movie theater markets.”
The conditions of the decrees forced the companies to sell the theaters they owned, outlawed “block booking” (the practice of selling films as a package to coerce theaters into playing less-profitable films), and limited actions that prioritized certain theaters over others.
In late 2019, the Antitrust Division of the US Department of Justice moved to eliminate the decrees. In a press release issued Friday the DOJ said that “the motion picture industry has undergone considerable change” since the inception of the decrees. It credited multiplex theaters and technology advances as rendering the need for the decrees obsolete. “New technology has created many different distribution and viewing platforms that did not exist when the decrees where entered into… today’s consumers can view motion pictures on cable and broadcast TV, DVDs, and over the internet through streaming services.”
In a 17-page Order, Judge Analisa Torres acknowledged these changes as one of the reasons to grant the government’s request. The court found that termination was in the public interest, stating that “it is unlikely that [the studios] would collude to once again limit their film distribution to a select group of theaters in the absence of the decrees” and concluded that the government has “offered a reasonable and persuasive explanation” for terminating the decrees.
Moving forward, the Order includes a two-year “sunset” provision for ending the block booking ban, in an attempt to minimize market disruption and to “provide movie theaters a transitional time period to adjust their business models and strategies to any proposals to change the film-by-film, theater-by-theater licensing regime.”
The Washington DC Police Union filed suit Wednesday in the US District Court for the District of Columbia against the city, seeking to block part of an emergency police reform bill passed in July.
The Comprehensive Policing and Justice Reform Second Emergency Amendment Act of 2020 was approved by the District of Columbia (DC) Council on July 7, and Mayor Muriel Bowser signed the act on July 27. The emergency act was passed in response to the killing of George Floyd and resulting protests throughout the nation.
Section 116 of the act amended Section 1708 of the DC government Comprehensive Merit Personnel Act (CMPA), removing the right of the DC Police Union to negotiate with management regarding discipline of its members. Under the CMPA, all DC government employees had the right to bargain with management concerning the discipline of members. Out of 45 labor unions representing DC government employees, the DC Police Union was the only union stripped of the right to negotiate.
In the complaint, the union alleged that Section 116 violated the Equal Protection requirements of the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments, because the government placed law enforcement into a distinct class and discriminated against them by stripping their rights to bargain. The complaint also alleged that the legislation violated the Bill of Attainder Clause, because it was “offered as a punishment of sworn law enforcement officers in the District of Columbia to quell rising tensions and protests in the District coming as a result of the death of George Floyd in Minnesota.”
The union alleged that the law violated the Contracts Clause of the Constitution, because the government was impeding upon the DC Police Union’s contractual relationships. Finally, the union alleged that Section 116 violated substantive due process rights under the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments, because it “is an arbitrary, severe, and permanent infringement upon the rights of the District’s sworn law enforcement officers and the DC Police Union.”
Because of this, the union requested that the court declare Section 116 invalid and unconstitutional, and that the court permanently enjoin the approval, enactment, and enforcement of the section.
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US President Donald Trump signed an executive order imposing sanctions against Chinese mobile applications TikTok and WeChat late on Thursday, invoking his emergency economic powers under the International Emergency Economic Powers Act, the National Emergencies Act, and 3 U.S. Code § 301. Trump stated that the spread of Chinese mobile apps throughout the US “threaten the national security, foreign policy, and economy” of the country.
The order expresses concerns that the data collected from users on the named apps allows the Chinese Communist Party to access personal information and track the location of federal employees and contractors. It also asserts that these apps censor politically sensitive content, which means that the apps can be used for disinformation campaigns that would benefit the Chinese Communist Party.
The order will prohibit any transaction related to WeChat or TikTok, increasing pressure on the apps to sell their US assets to an American company. This order adds to the national emergency declared in Executive Order 13873 of May 15, 2019.
Other countries have also taken actions against TikTok and other Chinese mobile apps. On June 29, India banned TikTok, WeChat, and 57 other Chinese mobile apps.
China’s foreign ministry said Friday that it firmly opposes these bans, as the companies comply with US laws and regulations. The ban begins 45 days after the date of the order.
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