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Hong Kong bars some journalists from covering events, ceremonies marking handover anniversary

Hong Kong bars some journalists from covering events, ceremonies marking handover anniversary

Chinese and Hong Kong flags are hanged to celebrate the 25th anniversary of Hong Kong’s handover to China, on June 17.Kin Cheung/The Associated Press

Hong Kong authorities, citing “security reasons,” have barred more than 10 journalists from covering events and ceremonies this week marking the 25th anniversary of Hong Kong’s return to China, according to the Hong Kong Journalists Association.

The journalists represent at least seven media outlets, including international news agencies Reuters and Agence France-Presse and others from Hong Kong, the association said in a statement posted online late Tuesday.

“The authorities have made ad hoc and narrow interview arrangements at this important juncture and have put forth vague grounds for refusal, seriously undermining the freedom of the press in Hong Kong,” the statement read.

The Hong Kong outlets affected include the English-language South China Morning Post, and Chinese-language newspaper Ming Pao as well as online news outlet HK01, the association said. The South China Morning Post said in a news report that one of its photographers had been rejected, with no reason given.

The rejections come amid strict requirements for those attending the July 1 events. Journalists covering the events must have daily COVID-19 nucleic acid tests starting last Sunday and stay in a quarantine hotel from Wednesday.

A news report by Hong Kong Economic Journal said at least three other journalists from local news outlets were informed Wednesday that their applications to cover the events had been rejected.

Despite receiving approvals that had instructions for checking in to the quarantine hotel, some received rejection notices on Wednesday while on their way to the hotel, while others were informed that they were barred from the events upon arrival.

Authorities had invited media outlets to submit up to 20 applications to cover the events – which include a flag-raising ceremony and the inauguration for the new Hong Kong government – but later specified that only one journalist from each outlet could be sent to cover each of the two events.

Reuters said in a news report it had put forward two journalists’ names to cover the events, and that both applications were rejected.

Ming Pao and HK01 did not immediately comment. Agence France-Presse declined to comment and an SCMP spokesperson declined to comment beyond their news report.

The affected media organizations were invited to send other journalists to cover the event, but the replacements must also meet the quarantine and testing requirements, according to the journalist association’s statement.

The Information Services Department, which sent out the initial invites to media outlets informing them to register to cover the event, declined to provide information on how many journalists were given accreditation and also did not comment on an SCMP news report that said one of its own photographers had been barred from the event.

“The government is striking a balance as far as possible between the need of media work and security requirements,” the Information Services Department said in a statement. “We will not comment on the accreditation outcome of individual organizations and persons.”

The rejections came as Hong Kong police confirmed that Chinese President Xi Jinping will visit the city for the anniversary of the former British colony’s return to Chinese rule on July 1, 1997.

Xi’s visit will be his first trip outside of mainland China since the coronavirus pandemic took hold about 2 1/2 years ago. Police have announced a raft of security measures, including road closures and a no-fly zone.

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Hideki Matsuyama disqualified from PGA event for illegal marking on club

The former champion Hideki Matsuyama was disqualified from the Memorial Tournament in Dublin, Ohio midway through his first round on Thursday due to an illegal marking on one of his clubs.

Matsuyama, who earned the first of his eight PGA Tour wins at the 2014 Memorial Tournament, was disqualified from the Jack Nicklaus-hosted event after painted lines were discovered on the face of his three wood.

It marked the first time the former Masters champion has been disqualified from a PGA Tour event.

The PGA Tour senior tournament director, Steve Rintoul, said images of the club were posted online and his team learned of them only after Matsuyama had used it on the first tee. Had he not used the club, he could have kept playing.

Hideki Matsuyama gets DQ’d for a marking on the face of his fairway wood.

The 📸 🐐 @gdm43pga managed to snap this one of Hideki’s at Muirfield. Gotta assume the white areas, which were likely meant to frame the face and center, caused the DQ. Wild stuff.

— Jonathan Wall (@jonathanrwall) June 2, 2022

Rintoul said his team approached Matsuyama on the second hole to ask if he had used the club and the former Masters champion was forthright about it.

“The material was applied to the face for alignment for Hideki to set the ball inside the circle of the lines. That’s actually the centre of the face,” Rintoul told reporters.

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Women’s golf


Linblad shoots lowest ever amateur score at US Women’s Open

Sweden’s Ingrid Lindblad fired the lowest score by an amateur in US Women’s Open history to set the early clubhouse target on day one at Pine Needles. 

Playing alongside her idol Annika Sorenstam, Lindblad carded seven birdies and one bogey in an opening six-under-par 65, eclipsing the previous best of 66 which has been achieved three times, most recently by Gina Kim in 2019.
That gave the 22-year-old a two-shot lead over fellow Swede Anna Nordqvist and Australia’s Minjee Lee, with Americans Lexi Thompson and Ally Ewing on three under. 

“I hit a few shots close to the pin and then my putting was great today,” Lindblad said. “Made a few par saves and made a few putts for birdies. It just worked from fairway to green. 

“I felt like the course would be a little bit more narrow. I missed a few tee shots today that I thought would be a little bit more off, but then I get to the ball and I’m like, oh, it’s fine. 

“The green areas were tough. You had to hit the right section of the green to not run off the slopes and everything. It’s a great US Open course.” 

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“And applying a small, discrete dot with a Sharpie to help you with alignment is fine. We have players who do it all the time. But the amount of substance that was up on the face of the club, when we sent it to the USGA, their equipment standards guys, it was just excessive.

“And that’s what could affect – could affect – the performance of the ball.”

Matsuyama, playing in a group alongside Rory McIlroy and Patrick Reed, was three-over-par 39 when he reached the turn at Muirfield Village after a double-bogey at the second hole and bogey at the sixth.

Cameron Smith of Australia was one of six players to shoot an opening-round, five-under-par 67 to take a share of the lead with Cameron Young, Luke List, Davis Riley, South Korea’s KH Lee and Canada’s Mackenzie Hughes.

The six co-leaders are one stroke ahead of Will Zalatoris, Denny McCarthy, Sahith Theegala and Wyndham Clark, who each opened with rounds of four-under 68.

Smith made seven birdies and two bogeys Thursday. The winner of March’s Players Championship called the round “a little bit of a grind.”

“Had to make a few good pars on that last nine for me, the front nine,” Smith said. “It was just good to kind of hang in there, make a few birdies, see a few putts going in. I think this is about as easy as this place is going to get today. I think it’s going to be a lot of stressful golf and a lot of grinding over the weekend. Nice to kind of take the box there early in the week.”

Riley joined the tie late in the day. The PGA Tour rookie briefly held the sole lead last Sunday at the Charles Schwab Challenge before finishing tied for fourth. After playing the front nine in even par, Riley rang up three straight birdies on 11, 12 and 13 and eagled the par-five 15th with a 17-foot putt.

“Hit a drive down the right side and thankfully caught the fairway,” Riley said. “Thought it might have had a chance to go on the bunker. And when it was in off the right, had 262 [to the] hole, hit it perfect, a little cut three-wood landed on the green and caught the slope and funnelled down to about 15 feet and made the putt centre cup. That was a nice one to grab.”

Lee is looking for a Texas double after winning the AT&T Byron Nelson in Dallas two weeks ago for the second straight year. He holed out for an eagle two with a 152-yard shot at the ninth hole to make the turn in 31.

Hughes, who has not had a great season, made nine birdies to counteract two bogeys and one double. “I hit a few loose ones that I’d like to have back, but I did so many good things that it’s kind of easier to forget about those,” Hughes said.

Ten players were tied for 11th at three-under 69, including Keegan Bradley, Max Homa, Ireland’s Shane Lowry, Mexico’s Abraham Ancer and Venezuela’s Jhonattan Vegas. McIlroy shot a two-under 70 and Spain’s Jon Rahm was at even par after a 72.

Bryson DeChambeau played his first round on the PGA Tour since the Masters after recovering from wrist surgery in April. He shot a four-over 76 with four bogeys and one double bogey. In similar fashion, Harris English made his first start on tour since January following hip surgery and shot a five-over 77.

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‘We want to honour the family’: Marking one year since the Afzaal tragedy

'We want to honour the family': Marking one year since the Afzaal tragedy

They promise to be solemn, heart-wrenching events, as London, Ont. prepares to mark the day four members of the Afzaal family were killed. A fifth member of the family, a young boy, suffered serious physical and emotional trauma.

Organizers hope the observances will help in the healing and further the discussion focused on ending hate. The accused is facing four counts of first degree murder and one count of attempted murder.

June 6 will mark one year since the deaths of Madiha Salman, 44, Salman Afzaal, 46, their daughter Yumna Afzaal, 15, and her grandmother, Talat Afzaal, 74. Fayaz, the son of Madiha and Salman, was 9-years-old at the time and suffered serious injuries.

The family was struck by a vehicle while on a sidewalk in what police have identified as a hate crime.

A number of events are planned, including a march Sunday afternoon from Oakridge Secondary School to the London Muslim Mosque, organized by the Youth Coalition Combating Islamophobia.

The ‘Our London Family’ memorial is being constructed at the corner of Hyde Park Road and South Carriage Road to honour the members of the Afzaal family who were killed and injured on June 6, 2021. (Gerry Dewan/CTV News London)

“I think there are really three things we want to accomplish this week,” said Nawaz Tahir from the Hikma Public Affairs Council.

“One, we want to honour the family and make sure we truly remember them. We want to provide the community another opportunity to heal and to grieve. And also take stock of where we’re at in terms of moving the needle in terms of making sure this doesn’t happen to another family or community again,” Tahir added.

There will be a series of events on Monday starting at 1 p.m. and culminating with a vigil at 6:30 p.m. at the newly constructed memorial plaza at the corner of Hyde Park Road and South Carriage Road, near where the tragedy occurred.

City of London officials say all events are being coordinated by members of the Muslim community and their allies, with support from the city.

“So a key part is having a place for these community conversations to happen, recognizing that the community is hurting and how to be part of building a safe and inclusive London for all. Responding to what they need is paramount,” said Elizabeth Peloza, Ward 12 councillor.

Tahir says the focus continues to be on remembering and honouring the Afzaal family, and told CTV News, “The reaction from Londoners — in particular, to be allies, stand up against hate — has been something that has really been heartwarming. I think there’s still a lot that can be done from a political perspective.”

“There’s a lot of change, and legislative change, that we can still accomplish,” Tahir added.

A full list of scheduled Our London Family events can be found on the City of London website

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Embassy hosting events this week marking century of US-Estonian relations

Embassy hosting events this week marking century of US-Estonian relations

On Monday, May 9, U.S. Embassy officials will visit the southern border city of Valga, where they will meet with students at Valga High School as well as host a concert featuring the U.S. Army Europe and Africa Band and Chorus’ Soldiers’ Chorus at the Valga Cultural Center (Kesk 1), according to a press release.

On Tuesday, May 10, Charge d’Affaires Brian Roraff will visit the Central Estonian city of Viljandi, where he will meet with local municipal leaders and students as well as visit the American Corner at Viljandi City Library.

That evening, the U.S. Embassy will host another free concert featuring the Soldiers’ Chorus at the Estonian Traditional Music Center (Tasuja pst 6).

On Wednesday, May 11, embassy officials and members of the Soldiers’ Chorus will meet with students at Tallinn Südalinna School.

That evening, the U.S. Embassy will host a third free concert featuring the Soldiers’ Chorus at the Lindakivi Cultural Center (Jaan Koorti 22) in cooperation with Lasnamäe District.

All three concerts are open to the public, with free admission, and begin at 6 p.m.

Under the direction of Lt. Col. Randall Bartel, the U.S. Army Europe and Africa Band and Chorus’ Soldiers’ Chorus is stationed in Sembach, Germany.

The chorus currently serves as the U.S. Army’s premier musical ambassadors in Europe and Africa, performing more than 200 missions each year across Europe, the Middle East and Africa. The group last performed in Estonia in July 2021.

Embassy celebrating with 100-day program

Diplomatic relations between the United States and the Republic of Estonia were formally established on July 28, 1922.

On Tuesday, April 19, the U.S. Embassy in Tallinn launched its “100 Days to 100 Years” campaign celebrating the 100th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between the United States and Estonia.

As part of the campaign, the embassy is cooperating with partners across Estonia to mark the jubilee, with plans including the publishing of a book on U.S.-Estonian relations by the University of Tartu, a conference co-hosted by Estonia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs to take place on June 17, a documentary to be aired on ETV and ETV+ in July, as well as several other musical performances, exhibitions, films and other cultural activities across the country, “from Kuressaare to Narva, and Valga to Tallinn.”

100 highlights of the past century

As part of the celebrations, the U.S. Embassy also launched, a website featuring 100 moments from the first 100 years of the two countries’ relations, including contributions of the Estonian-American diaspora.

“Grouped into diplomatic milestones, security engagements, cultural events, and economic connections, these moments demonstrate the enduring friendship the United States and Estonia have shared over the past century,” the introduction states.

For additional information on “100 Days to 100 Years” activities, follow the U.S. Embassy in Tallinn on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram as well as check out the hashtag #US100EE.

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Alabama marking Holocaust remembrance with events

Alabama marking Holocaust remembrance with events

Alabama will remember the Holocaust, the systematic slaughter of Jews and other people by Nazis, with events planned for this week in Montgomery and Birmingham.

The Alabama Holocaust Commission is sponsoring an annual gathering of remembrance on Tuesday at the Alabama Department of Archives and History in the capital. A child survivor of the Holocaust, Inge Auerbacher, is scheduled to speak, and a state proclamation will be presented.

A commemoration will also be held on Thursday at Temple Beth-El in Birmingham. The program will feature George Nathan, the son of Alabama Holocaust survivors Henry and Sophie Nathan. The family lived in both Anniston and Birmingham after arriving in the United States.

About 6 million people were killed by the Nazis in the early 1940s during World War II. The state Holocaust commission holds events each year to remember the victims.