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Hong Kong’s leader has given her “sincere apology” following mass protests against a controversial extradition law proposal, but has not said she will scrap the bill.

Carrie Lam had been facing calls to abandon the plans and to resign but failed to do either in a news conference on Tuesday.

However, Ms Lam said the bill won’t be brought back in the current climate, given public outrage on the matter.

The bill would allow China to extradite Hong Kong residents to the mainland for political trials.

Over the past few weeks, hundreds of thousands of people have marched in Hong Kong over the bill, with many being met by potentially lethal force in police clashes.

Protesters in Hong Kong
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Protesters took to the streets of Hong Kong

Ms Lam reiterated there was no timetable to resume the extradition bill and it would not be resumed if the government could not resolve divisions, saying she would not proceed again with the bill if fear can not be adequately addressed.

She said she had “come to understand that I should have done better,” adding that she must “do more to balance the different views”.

The courts in China are strictly controlled by the Communist Party, and many say the latest bill is yet another example of the country meddling.

A protester throws a tear gas canister during demonstrations in Hong Kong
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The protests turned violent

Critics say the bill would undermine Hong Kong’s rule of law, guaranteed by the “one country, two systems” formula, under which Hong Kong returned to China, by extending China’s reach into the city.

They say it would allow individuals to be arbitrarily sent back to China where they couldn’t be guaranteed a fair trial.

Many protest organisers say they will continue to hold street demonstrations until Ms Lam scraps the bill, fearing that authorities may seek to revive the legislation in future when the public mood is calmer.

A protester throws a tear gas canister during demonstrations in Hong Kong
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The protests turned violent

An estimated two million people marched on Sunday.

The recent clashes are the most violent that Hong Kong has seen in more than 20 years.

In a televised address to the nation during the height of the protests, Ms Lam said she was saddened by the riots and condemned the violence: “We can all have different opinions but there have to be limits on how they are expressed.

“If people think violence is the solution, then things will only get worse. It will harm Hong Kong.”

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‘Fraught with danger’: Ex-MI6 officer behind Russia dossier warns about discussing sources | US News

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Former intelligence officer Christopher Steele has warned about the danger of discussing sources.

It comes after a US investigation published details about people who it said contributed to a dossier that he compiled on alleged Russian links to Donald Trump’s election campaign.

The long-serving veteran of Britain’s Secret Intelligence Service (MI6) also hit back at the findings of the investigation by the US Department of Justice’s inspector general, which were released on Monday.

The top complaint was on claims in the report about a “primary sub-source” that was allegedly relied upon by Mr Steele in his compilation of the so-called Trump dossier.

Inspector General Michael Horowitz – who was looking into the origins of an inquiry by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) into the Russia suspicions – set out how the FBI had interviewed who they believed to be Mr Steele’s “primary sub-source” in January, March and May 2017.

His report claimed these interviews “raised significant questions about the reliability of the Steele election reporting”.

US Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz
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US Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz

It continued: “During the FBI’s January interview, the primary sub-source told the FBI that he/she had not seen Steele’s reports until they became public that month, and that he/she made statements indicating that Steele misstated or exaggerated the Primary Sub-source’s statements in multiple sections of the reporting.”

Mr Steele and Orbis Business Intelligence – his private intelligence company – said in a statement that they were never given the opportunity to respond to these claims.

“Public discussions about a source are always fraught with danger for the source and the source’s sub-sources,” said the statement, released by their lawyers.

“Had Orbis been given the opportunity to respond in a private session, the statements by the ‘primary sub-source’ would be put in a very different light. The ‘primary sub-source’s’ debriefings by Orbis were meticulously documented and recorded”.

While the report concluded President Trump hasn't committed a crime, it does not exonerate him of obstructing justice.
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The Mueller report said no one linked with the Trump campaign had colluded with Russia

The former intelligence officer and his company also described how they had cooperated “voluntarily and fully” with Mr Horowitz’s during his inquiry.

“Orbis also provided the OIG (Office of the Inspector General) team unprecedented access to Orbis internal company documentation, including contemporaneous memoranda of meetings with the FBI,” they said in the statement.

They added that Mr Horowitz’s team did give Orbis redacted portions of a draft version of the report to review and offer comment on in advance of publication.

“Those portions contained numerous inaccurate and misleading statements as to which Orbis submitted suggested corrections and clarifications,” said the statement.

“Some of Orbis’s suggestions appear to be reflected in the final report.”

Mr Steele and his company then said that “at the twelfth hour late on Sunday evening” – they were told that previously redacted material had been unredacted and contained negative material about Mr Steele.

“Orbis was given no opportunity to review, much less comment, on this material,” they said.

“The result is that the OIG Report contains several serious errors and misstatements that require this response.”

In other criticisms of the report, Mr Steele and Orbis also denied a claim that he had been a Confidential Human Source (CHS) to the FBI during a relationship that started in 2010 and became a more formal contractual relationship between 2013 and 2016.

During that time Mr Steele, a Russia expert, provided information that helped the FBI in other Russia-linked investigations, including work on FIFA and athletics doping.

The Justice Department did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

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New Zealand volcano: Risky mission under way to recover bodies from White Island | World News

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New Zealand’s military and police have begun a high-risk operation to recover the bodies of at least eight people killed on White Island after a volcanic eruption on Monday.

Authorities have faced growing pressure from families of the victims and the local community to bring back those who died as soon as possible.

New Zealand Police had previously refused to go in due to safety risks, as experts warn the island remains highly volatile.

More follows…

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RAF joins search for missing Chilean air force plane with 38 on board | World News

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The RAF is helping search for a missing Chilean air force plane that had 38 people on board, the Ministry of Defence has said.

The C-130 Hercules, which was carrying 17 crew and 21 passengers, went missing less than two hours after taking off from the southern city of Punta Arenas on Monday afternoon.

It was flying over the notoriously turbulent area of Drake Passage and heading to Antarctica when contact was lost.

The C-130 had 38 people on board. Chilean air force file photo
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The C-130 Hercules had 38 people on board. Pic: Chilean air force file photo

On Wednesday, the Chilean military asked the RAF for assistance and an A400M aircraft was deployed from the Falkland Islands.

A liaison team of military and civilian personnel was also sent.

An RAF A400 aircraft takes flight on route to Chile
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The aircraft will conduct its first reconnaissance flight on Thursday
The aircraft arrived in Chile to assist in the rescue and search operation on Wednesday
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The plane arrived in Chile on Wednesday

The aircraft will carry out its first reconnaissance flight in support of the Chilean search effort on Thursday.

Teams will scan an area of roughly 70,000 square miles using planes, satellites and ships, including vessels from Argentina, Brazil, Uruguay and the US.

Rescue apparatus on board the RAF aircraft
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Rescue apparatus s being carried on the RAF aircraft

Debris from the aircraft was earlier believed to have been found floating in the water around 30km (18 miles) from its last known location.

Analysis of the debris, said to be “sponge” material, will take a few days but General Eduardo Mosqueira said it could be from the plane’s fuel tanks.

Met Office staff based in the Falkland Islands are providing weather information to the Chilean military as the search continues.

Helicopters and planes are being used in the search
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Helicopters, boats, satellites and planes are being used in the search

Ed Coleman, a pilot and expert from Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in Arizona, said the route was treacherous because of rapidly changing weather in the Antarctic.

He explained: “You can have a clear sky one minute, and in a short time later storms can be building up making it a challenge, which causes bigger swells and rougher air.”

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