Chinese Farmer Who Praised Lawyers Sentenced to 18 Years

A prominent Chinese pig farmer who was detained after praising lawyers during a crackdown on legal activists by President Xi Jinping’s government was sentenced Thursday to 18 years in prison on charges of organizing an attack on officials and other offenses.

Sun Dawu, chairman of Dawu Agriculture Group, was among 20 defendants who stood trial in Gaobeidian, southwest of Beijing in Hebei province. They were detained after Dawu employees in August 2020 tried to stop a state-owned enterprise from demolishing a company building.

Sun also was fined 3.1 million yuan ($480,000), the People’s Court of Gaobeidian said in a statement.

Sun was convicted of gathering people to attack state organs, obstructing public affairs, picking quarrels, sabotaging production, illegal mining, illegal occupation of farmland and illegally taking public deposits, the court said.

Other defendants received sentences ranging from one to 12 years, according to a statement from Dawu Group. It said the company was ordered to refund 1 billion yuan ($155 million) in investment that was raised improperly.

Sun became nationally known in 2003 when he was charged with illegal fundraising after soliciting investments for his business from friends and neighbors. The case prompted an outpouring of public support for Sun.

Since then, Sun has praised lawyers who help the public at a time when prominent legal figures have been imprisoned by Xi’s government. Sun’s lawyer in the 2003 case, Xu Zhiyong, disappeared in February 2020. Fellow activists say he was charged with treason.

Sun was accused of provoking quarrels, a charge used against labor and other activists, when he was detained in August 2020.

The trial officially was open to the public but only one spectator from the family of each defendant and 10 from the company were allowed due to coronavirus restrictions, defense lawyers said earlier. 

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8.2M Quake Hits Alaska, Triggering Tsunami Watch in Hawaii

A tsunami watch was issued for Hawaii on Wednesday evening following a large earthquake off the Alaska peninsula.

According to the Honolulu Star Advertiser, the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center listed the magnitude as 8.1 and said, “an investigation is underway to determine if there is a tsunami threat to Hawaii.” But the U.S. Geological Survey said the quake was magnitude 8.2 and hit 91 kilometers east-southeast of Perryville, Alaska.

“Based on all available data, a tsunami may have been generated by this earthquake that could be destructive on coastal areas even far from the epicenter,” PTWC said.

Based on the preliminary seismic data, the quake should have been widely felt by almost everyone in the area of the epicenter. It might have caused light to moderate damage.

Moderate shaking probably occurred in Perryville, Chignik Lake and Sandpoint. 

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Why Are Africa’s Youth Rising Up?

In this edition of Straight Talk Africa, host Haydé Adams looks at what’s behind the social uprisings led by youth across Africa.

Our guests include Kamissa Camara, expert for the Sahel at the United States Institute of Peace, Dimah Mahmoud, Sudanese activist and political analyst and Aya Chebbi, youth activist and former African Union youth envoy.

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Why Are Africa’s Youth Rising Up? [simulcast]

In this edition of Straight Talk Africa, host Haydé Adams looks at what’s behind the social uprisings led by youth across Africa.

Our guests include Kamissa Camara, expert for the Sahel at the United States Institute of Peace, Dimah Mahmoud, Sudanese activist and political analyst and Aya Chebbi, youth activist and former African Union youth envoy.

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Asian American Olympians Discuss Facing Hate

From racist slurs and gestures to harassment while working out in public, Asian Americans representing their country at the Olympics in Tokyo have recounted some of the discrimination they have faced in the United States.

Sakura Kokumai is competing in karate, a sport being contested for the first time at the Olympics.

She described in a May post on the Team USA website how a man at a park in California “verbally harassed me because of my race.”

“It was my first experience with such an aggressive and obvious hate crime,” Kokumai wrote.  “I was a target because of how I looked. Not because I am an athlete. Not because I compete in karate — but because I am Asian. And no matter how you look at me, I will always look Asian.”

Kokumai said she had talked about such crimes with friends, but experiencing it firsthand made her really understand and want to be vocal about the issue.

“I wish there was one thing that would fix this problem, but the first step is spreading awareness,” she wrote.  “And then we have to have empathy and compassion for one another. Over time we can help change things in the world for the better.”

Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders across the country have faced verbal and physical attacks, with the group Stop AAPI Hate reporting in May that from March 19, 2020 to March 31, 2020 it received 6,603 incident reports.

According to a report from the Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism at California State University, San Bernardino, the number of hate crimes against Asians reported to police in large U.S. cities rose 189% during the first quarter of this year.

For gymnast Yul Moldauer, who is competing in his first Olympics, an incident with an angry driver prompted him to share his story in a March Instagram post with the caption: “Asian American. The United States is my home.” 

Moldauer said the woman, who had cut him off, yelled to him at a traffic light, “Go back to China.”

“For me, this really shocked me,” he explained.  “I was confused.  I felt uncomfortable.  I really just tried to act like it didn’t happen.  When I put USA on my chest when I compete, it hurts to know that I have to represent people like that.”

Erik Shoji, a two-time Olympian on the U.S. men’s volleyball team, used his social media to call attention to the suspension of a Serbian player who during a match in June used her fingers to narrow her eyes in a gesture toward players from the opposing team from Thailand.

“On behalf of the Asian community and the Asian volleyball community, I just want to thank the [International Volleyball Federation] and the [Volleyball Nations League] for taking a stance against racist gestures like this one, against racism as a whole and making our sport an even safer place,” Shoji said.

Alexander Massialas, competing in fencing in his third Olympics, wrote on his Instagram account about the need to confront and push back against acts of hate.

“Being half Chinese, I often experience racism through a different lens, not as a direct target but as a witness and secondhand victim,” Massialas wrote.

He describes a time when he went to get into a ride share car driven by a Chinese man, when a passenger getting out of the car objected to the driver taking photos of the back seat where the passenger had spilled alcohol and drug paraphernalia.

“The man stumbled over to me and tried to get me to join him by saying, ‘can you believe this f*ing chnk?'”

Massialas said he intervened when the passenger tried to steal the car, going against what he says is a cultural norm in his community to “ignore what everyone else says, no matter how wrong or hurtful.”  He writes that the driver even told him he should not have put himself in harm’s way, but that the incident was an example to Massialas of what needs to change “when it comes to racism.”

“Today I think about the victims of the senseless attack on Asian women in Atlanta, the Thai grandfather that was murdered within a 10-minute walk of my own home in San Francisco, and the countless acts of racism and violence against the AAPI community,” he said.  “Instead of ignoring and internalizing the ignorance that propagates hate, we can combat this by sticking together, speaking out, and standing up to hate against vulnerable communities.”

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Olympic Champ Biles Withdraws from All-around Competition

Simone Biles will not defend her Olympic title. 

The American gymnastics superstar withdrew from Thursday’s all-around competition to focus on her mental well-being. 

USA Gymnastics said in a statement on Wednesday that the 24-year-old is opting to not compete. The decision comes a day after Biles removed herself from the team final following one rotation because she felt she wasn’t mentally ready. 

Jade Carey, who finished ninth in qualifying, will take Biles’ place in the all-around. Carey initially did not qualify because she was the third-ranking American behind Biles and Sunisa Lee. International Gymnastics Federation rules limit countries to two athletes per event in the finals. 

The organization said Biles will be evaluated before deciding if she will participate in next week’s individual events. 

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COVID Exacerbating Terrorist Recruitment in Kenya, Experts Say

Kenyan aid groups and analysts say the al-Shabab terror group is preying on young people who are struggling during the COVID pandemic, to recruit them into their ranks. To counter the effort, local groups in Kenya hold outreach sessions in low-income neighborhoods, as Ruud Elmendorp reports from Mombasa.

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