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Trump speaks in front of fake presidential seal mysteriously manipulated to feature Russian eagles and golf clubs

Trump speaks in front of fake presidential seal mysteriously manipulated to feature Russian eagles and golf clubsDonald Trump appeared at a right-wing rally in front of a fake presidential seal, doctored to make apparently satiric references to Russia and golf.The tweaked image flashed up on a screen behind the president as he spoke to a summit hosted by the conservative group Turning Point USA in Washington earlier this week.The normally solitary bald eagle was seen with two heads, made to resemble the two-headed bird on the official Russian coat of arms in a mocking nod to Mr Trump’s woes with investigations into Moscow’s election meddling.The symbolic bird also showed up clutching a bag of golf clubs – evidently a joke about the president’s fondness for spending so much time on the links.Both the White House and Turning Point USA said they were unaware of why or how the altered image appeared on the screen.A spokesman for Turning Point USA told The Washington Post it was a “last-minute A/V [audio/visual] mistake” after the newspaper first highlighted the doctored seal.“I can’t figure out who did it yet. I don’t know where they got the image from,” he added, explaining they organisation was still try to determine who was responsible and where they got the image from.> Seriously?? > How did Russia’s national symbol end up on a presidential seal at a trump event? t.co/z6omAXnz6q pic.twitter.com/u8Baym73fM> > — Olga Lautman (@olgaNYC1211) > > July 25, 2019Richard Painter, who served as the George W Bush administration’s chief White House ethics lawyer, told the Post: “To let someone project something on the screen that isn’t controlled by the White House is pretty stupid.”He added: “Someone is going to be getting in trouble, but they got one heck of a good laugh out of it.”Mr Painter explained that First Amendment freedom of expression rights allowed people to parody the official presidential seal.Kathleen Clark, legal professor at Washington University, said: “Was someone at Turning Point trolling Trump? I just think Putin would probably approve.”



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‘Triad’ Thugs Use Clubs to Punish Hong Kong’s Pro-Democracy Protesters. But That’s Not Gonna Stop Them.

‘Triad’ Thugs Use Clubs to Punish Hong Kong’s Pro-Democracy Protesters. But That’s Not Gonna Stop Them.ReutersHONG KONG—Arthur Shek, the co-founder of a financial newspaper here called the Hong Kong Economic Times, took the stage Saturday at an event called “Safeguard HK” to support the police. Pro-democracy protesters have been hitting the streets for seven weeks straight, even briefly seizing the legislature, and Shek compared the demonstrators to spoiled brats. Shek called on anyone who might be listening to use rattan sticks and PVC pipes to beat young people and “educate” them. Behind the stage backdrop was a boat with a banner that read “Stop the violence, stride forward with Hong Kong.” At the time, amid elated cheers, the irony was lost on the crowd.Then attacks actually happened.On Sunday in a neighborhood called Yuen Long, far from the scene of the day’s protests, dozens of masked men and women dressed in white shirts were waiting with sticks by the turnstiles at a train station, ready to assault any people they thought were protesters (who often wore black). They even battered unrelated passers-by, including families with children who were just trying to get home.The massive protests in Hong Kong over the last two months, sometimes involving millions of people, initially were prompted by a plan by the city’s chief executive to introduce a law that would provide cover for politically motivated extradition to mainland China. Since then, popular demands have grown but been consistent: a complete withdrawal of the extradition bill, a retraction of the government’s label of protests as “riots,” the release of those who have been arrested, an inquiry into recent police conduct, and universal suffrage.Desperate Xi Jinping Needs a Win in Hong Kong After Mass ProtestsIt is fair to say that Chinese leader Xi Jinping and the Chinese Communist Party do not have a solid plan to grapple with these developments in Hong Kong—or even a long-term strategy for integration. Few on either side of the border still have faith in the “one country, two systems” governance plan that was meant to define how Hong Kong’s political and economic systems would function after 1997, when the city’s sovereignty was returned from Britain to the CCP. Even gradual assimilation into mainland China’s governance has been met with extreme resistance in Hong Kong.But the attacks in Yuen Long show how Beijing can tighten the screws in the city. On the surface, this appears as a domestic matter, with Hongkongers assaulting Hongkongers. It has already led to a division in the city; what you wear reflects what your ideals are or where your allegiance lies. The same goes for where you shop, because many business groups in Hong Kong maintain tight relations with governmental bodies in mainland China.With severe control of how information flows into mainland China, Xi and the CCP don’t need to worry about the protests in Hong Kong inspiring widespread insurrection in the country. Rather, Hongkongers worry about what the eventual snapback may be. But that unease is only giving fuel to their actions and clashes with the police every few days. It’s one of the few ways in which they can still express their political views—and their rage against a political machine from which they are largely excluded.Many videos of the incident in Yuen Long have been posted on Twitter, Facebook, and shared through other social networks and messaging apps.Police officers were seen walking away from the scene before the lashings started. The thugs entered the station, at certain points charging onto the platform and into trains to beat up anyone who was aboard. A lawmaker, Lam Cheuk Ting, required 18 stitches in his mouth after he was attacked. One journalist with Hong Kong media outlet Stand News live-streamed the assault, and in the process was knocked down and struck by the thugs. In several cases, calls to the city’s emergency hotline were cut off mid-conversation after the attack and locations were mentioned.Later Sunday evening, pro-Beijing legislator Junius Ho greeted the individuals who carried out the attacks, shaking their hands, applauding their actions, and thanking them. When asked about this later, Ho said “My job is to reach out.”It didn’t take long for Hongkongers to react to Ho’s chummy exchange with the assailants. The next day, his office was egged and trashed, shattered glass blanketing every surface.Protesters Seize Hong Kong Legislature and Raise—Now It’s China’s MoveOn Sunday, after the mob left the station, a small cohort of police officers arrived at the scene. They made no arrests and said that they didn’t encounter anyone holding weapons, though photographs taken by a New York Times photographer have surfaced to counter that claim. Reporters asked why the police were slow to respond to a violent incident, but the division commander retorted “I can’t say if we are late.” He followed up with “I didn’t see the time on my watch, sorry.”By Monday morning, more than 45 individuals had sought treatment at hospitals, although the number of people who were injured surely runs much higher. In the past few weeks, there were cases where the police force had accessed medical records of protesters who sought treatment, in turn identifying some who were present at anti-government marches.Locals say the individuals wearing white are triad gang members. On Monday, many shops in Yuen Long remained shuttered as rumors circulated that the thugs will be back in action after nightfall.Even before the attack in Yuen Long, there was a severe lack of trust in the police force in Hong Kong. A track by local rapper JB, “FUCKTHEPOPO,” has become an anthem among some of the younger protesters. Graffiti reading the same message has been spray-painted on the outer walls of some police stations, including the headquarters. A hand sign where all but the ring finger are extended is used to mock the police, calling back to an incident where a protester bit off the finger of a cop who was trying to subdue him during clashes in a shopping mall last week.Many in Hong Kong now see the police as complicit in the attacks in Yuen Long. At a press conference, the police chief, Stephen Lo, said the police force wasn’t equipped to deal with what was going on at the train station because protests elsewhere demanded attention. The city’s chief executive, Carrie Lam, who has been the focus of ire among the population in the past weeks, said the government “did not have all the available facts,” and hence had to delay action. She also mentioned that the actions of protesters in other parts of the city—in the central business district and at the Chinese Communist Party’s liaison office, where its emblem was hit with black paint bombs—“hurt the feelings of the Chinese nation,” parroting a talking point that is often used in the Chinese government’s propaganda.Last week, the Financial Times reported that Carrie Lam had attempted to resign from her post, only to be told by Beijing that she needs to stay in place and settle matters in Hong Kong. Lam denied that any of this had ever happened. In any case, here’s the kicker: As long as she remains as the top political puppet in Hong Kong, locals will be protesting against her instead of overtly invoking Beijing and Xi Jinping in their grievances.As we approach the fifth anniversary of the Umbrella Movement, we can expect many more protests to take place every weekend, perhaps even more often than that, with violence escalating each week.Read more at The Daily Beast.Get our top stories in your inbox every day. Sign up now!Daily Beast Membership: Beast Inside goes deeper on the stories that matter to you. Learn more.



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South Korea's Kim Jong-un fan clubs prepare welcome as North Korean leader vows visit to Seoul

South Korea's Kim Jong-un fan clubs prepare welcome as North Korean leader vows visit to SeoulNorth Korean leader Kim Jong-un has written a rare letter to Seoul vowing to “frequently” meet Moon Jae-in, South Korea’s president, to discuss nuclear disarmament.  In the missive, described by South Korean officials as warm in tone, Kim pledged to pursue peace between the two countries and expressed regret that he had been so far unable to visit South Korea after Mr Moon invited him to do so in September.  But he expressed a strong will to visit the South Korean capital in the future and Mr Moon welcomed his overtures via his social media account. “If we meet together with sincerity, there is nothing we cannot achieve,” Mr Moon said. The North Korean leader, long denounced as a dictator in the South, can expect a warm welcome from at least a section of the South Korean population if he arrives. In recent months fan clubs have sprung up to prepare a welcoming party for his visit.  Earlier this month, dozens of South Korean university students in black winter coats sat down on a frozen pathway in Seoul’s Maronie Park to discuss their unlikely new hero. Clutching bunches of pastel pink rosebays, symbolising the sea of flowers that greeted Moon Jae-in, the South Korean president, on his trip to Pyongyang in September, they broke into song. “Let’s make reunification happen a minute sooner,” the students chanted, in a refrain referring to their political goal to see the Korean peninsula unified. The meeting, attended by The Telegraph, was a stark reflection of the perceptional shift taking place in the South. “Until now, we did not know Kim’s true self. We only saw the media portrayal of him as an evil man!” one speaker said.  Such scenes would have been unthinkable in the South Korean capital one year ago. Not only because Pyongyang was still threatening Seoul and Washington with the prospect of war but because the South’s National Security Act was prepped to jail anyone “praising, inciting or propagating the activities of an anti-government organisation.”  South Korean President Moon Jae-in was given a warm welcome in Pyongyang in September Credit: Pool/AP The enforcement of the 1948 law has been relaxed during President Moon’s 18-month-old administration as he pursues a diplomatic détente with Pyongyang to halt its nuclear weapons and missiles programme and bring peace to the peninsula.  The more tolerant political atmosphere has allowed at least a dozen civic groups – collectively known as the ‘Paektu Praise Committee’- to spring up as an unofficial welcoming squad for Kim’s planned visit to Seoul.  Although the confirmation and timing of his unprecedented trip has not yet been nailed down, the groups are already preparing. Some are learning the dance moves of a North Korean art troupe, while others are visiting schools to collect welcome messages.  At the Maronie Park event in mid-December, enthralled students watched a short drama about a local family excited about Kim coming to Seoul. “I like our Chairman Kim more than BTS!” yelled the family’s father, referring to a K-pop band that has stormed the global charts this year.  To one side, a pop-up photo gallery displayed highlights of 2018’s Korean diplomatic calendar – Kim and President Moon’s first meeting on the border in April, holding their hands in the air, smiling with their wives on a group trip to the North’s Mount Paektu.  A student welcome committee organised a pop-up gallery in Seoul of President Moon's meetings with Kim Credit: Junho Lee “I believe the events we hold influence people’s reactions to Kim’s visit. Many people who didn’t really know about Kim’s visit see our event and learn more,” said participant Ha In-cheol, 23. “We do receive many positive reviews. People write postcards saying ‘Welcome to the South’, ‘We hope you visit us soon’. We also sell stickers and badges welcoming Kim and many people buy them,” he said.  In a Telegraph interview, Kim Han-sung, 28, who heads up the ‘Korea Progressive University Student’s Union’, a branch of the praise committee, said the welcoming parties had been inspired in part by President Moon’s warm reception in Pyongyang.  “The people there welcomed him with the Unified Korea flag and flowers. We plan on doing the same thing when Kim comes here. We are also planning for a candlelight cultural festival, campaigns, and street performances to welcome him,” he said.  The groups are practicing songs popular with the North’s Samjiyon orchestra, a traditional music ensemble that performed at the South Korea Winter Olympics earlier this year. The orchestra’s greatest hits include “Let us run towards the future” and “We welcome you”.  Left wing groups in Seoul are taking a positive view of Kim Jong-un Credit: Junho Lee “All these songs are very meaningful in the relationship of the two Koreas,” said Mr Kim.  But he admitted that, despite a generally positive public reaction to their street activities, pro-Pyongyang activists were coming under fire online. “We receive lot of attacks on the internet,” he said.  The rise of left-wing groups promoting positive engagement with Kim Jong-un has also sparked a backlash from conservatives which analysts say could erode public support for Mr Moon. The president’s ratings are already on a downward spiral due to the country’s economic woes.  Meanwhile, defectors who have taken shelter in the South after fleeing hardships and persecution in the pariah regime have also been left aghast at Kim’s sudden surge in popularity after long being portrayed as a ruthless dictator.  At the Teach North Korean Refugees (TNKR) office in Seoul, some said they were baffled by the positive reactions to his planned visit, reported the Korea Times.  “I had a miserable life in North Korea, I was sentenced to one of the harsh prison camps. Later, after I was released, I escaped, but I got captured and sent back. Then my life in that living hell became even worse,” said Eunhwa, a woman who arrived in the South in 2015.  “I'm so surprised to hear South Koreans saying nice things about Kim Jung-un. It means they really don't understand the evil to the north.” Mikyung, a woman who escaped North Korea in 2016 said she was amazed at the South’s high expectations about Kim’s desire for peace. “It should be clear to anyone who understands the regime that it is seeking survival on its own terms, not to compromise,” she said.  “He will continue trying to exert complete control over everyone within North Korean territory and maybe even the entire Korean Peninsula.”        



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Buyers clubs for cheaper drugs help fight hepatitis and HIV

Nutland shows off some of his generic drugs during an interview with Reuters at his home in central LondonBy Ben Hirschler LONDON (Reuters) – Frustrated by the high price of antiviral drugs, thousands of patients from London to Moscow to Sydney are turning to a new wave of online "buyers clubs" to get cheap generic medicines to cure hepatitis C and protect against HIV infection. While regulators warn that buying drugs online is risky, scientific data presented at a recent medical conference suggest that treatment arranged through buyers club can be just as effective as through conventional channels. Will Nutland, who supports a drug-buying network in London and takes Indian-made generic drugs that are not available through the health service to prevent HIV infection, thinks the latest research will build confidence in such schemes.



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