Pro-democracy supporters hold their phone’s flashlight in a rally to show support for students at The Hong Kong Poytechnic University on November 19, 2019 in Hong Kong, China.
Anthony Kwan | Getty Images
The House passed a pro-Hong Kong rights bill on Wednesday, putting President Donald Trump in a bind as he tries not to roil high-stakes trade talks with China.
The chamber approved a measure that aims to protect human rights in Hong Kong by a 417-1 margin amid efforts to crack down on months of pro-democracy protests. The House passed a second bill to bar the export of certain munitions to Hong Kong police by the same margin.
The Senate unanimously approved both pieces of legislation, so they head to Trump’s desk after House passage. The White House has not yet signaled where the president stands on the bills, but he could face a dilemma.
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said Beijing “condemns and firmly opposes” the first bill, known as the Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act, according to Reuters. Trump aims not to anger the Chinese regime as he pushes for the elusive first piece of a U.S.-China trade agreement.
Congress’ move to pass the bills comes at a tricky time for Trump, who hopes to have a China trade victory to promote on the 2020 campaign trail. Major U.S. stock indexes fell on Wednesday following a Reuters report that the world’s two largest economies may not finish a “phase one” trade deal this year.
Trump did not answer shouted questions from reporters Wednesday about whether he would sign the bills. The legislation passed with near-unanimous support in both chambers, meaning Congress could override a Trump veto.
The government response to months of pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong, a semi-autonomous region, has grown increasingly violent. The demonstrations first started in response to a since scrapped bill that would have allowed extradition to mainland China.
Some members of the Trump administration such as Secretary of State Mike Pompeo have harshly criticized China’s response to the protests. Trump has said China should handle the situation itself, though he has warned harsh treatment of people in Hong Kong could derail the trade talks.
One bill passed this week would require Pompeo to say once a year that Hong Kong has enough autonomy to keep special U.S. trading consideration that helps its economy. It would also set up the potential for sanctions on people responsible for human rights abuse in Hong Kong.
The second measure would bar the sale of items such as tear gas and rubber bullets to Hong Kong police.
Asked about the trade talks earlier Wednesday, Trump said Beijing wants to strike a trade agreement more than he does. He added that he has not made a deal because “I don’t think they’re stepping up to the level that I want.”
Police chief calls for peace ahead of march
Pro-democracy protesters participate in a “5 Demands” mass rally on December 1, 2019 in Hong Kong, China.
Anthony Kwan | Getty Images News | Getty Images
Hong Kong’s police chief has urged citizens to demonstrate peacefully ahead of what is expected to be a large-scale pro-democracy march on Sunday, an event planned amid a lull in violence in the Chinese-ruled city.
Police on Thursday gave a rare green light to the demonstration, organized by the Civil Human Rights Front, the group that called the million-strong marches in the summer. Sunday’s march is a key gauge of the pro-democracy movement’s support following its sweeping victory in local elections.
Speaking to reporters before departing for a “courtesy visit” to Beijing, newly-installed police commissioner Chris Tang urged Hong Kongers to set a global example.
“We hope our citizens can show the whole world (that) Hong Kong people are capable of holding a large scale rally in an orderly and peaceful manner,” he said. “We urge the organizer to assist the police on maintaining the order.”
Tang was traveling to meet with senior officials from the ministry of public security in Beijing and is expected to return to Hong Kong on Sunday.
The unrest in Hong Kong is the biggest popular challenge to Chinese President Xi Jinping since he came to power in 2012.
The former British colony has been wracked by six months of pro-democracy protests sparked by a now withdrawn China extradition bill and which have broadened into calls for greater democratic freedoms.
Escalating violence last month saw a dramatic university siege that pitted protesters against the police.
Despite the increasingly violent tactics adopted by some protesters, pro-democracy candidates achieved record gains in the Nov. 24 local elections, winning almost 90 percent of the seats after the highest ever voter turnout since local polls began in 1999.
Hong Kong has enjoyed a period of relative calm since, a state the new police chief said he hoped could be maintained.
“In the last two weeks the city was relatively peaceful,” he noted, “When the citizens have a chance to take a breather, we hope the violent people will really stop engaging in illegal activities.”
Later on Friday, protesters plan a smaller rally against police use of tear gas, which they say is excessive and harming innocent bystanders. The police has said its use of force has been restrained.
Apple is killing Lightning connector on top iPhones by 2021, Kuo says
Apple’s Lightning connector
Jaap Arriens | NurPhoto | Getty Images
Apple could ditch the Lightning connector on the highest-end versions of the iPhone in 2021, meaning the devices will require wireless charging, according to a report on Thursday from Ming-Chi Kuo, an analyst at TF Securities.
The removal of the Lightning cable, along with other differentiating updates, will boost shipments and the average selling price of the high-end iPhone models, Kuo, a top Apple analyst, wrote. Without the connector, the top-tier iPhone would provide a “completely wireless experience,” Kuo said.
Speculation has been building for several years that Apple plans to remove the Lightning cable. As far back as 2017, Kuo predicted that Apple would discard the Lightning connector in favor of the USB Type-C connector, which is widely used across the industry.
However, Apple has continued to include Lightning ports in the latest iPhone models. Apple’s new iPhone 11, iPhone 11 Pro and iPhone 11 Pro Max models, which were announced in September, all have Lightning ports.
Apple has started to include the USB-C connector in some products. The new iPhones support Apple’s fast charger, which promises to deliver up to a 50% charge in 30 minutes. The charger uses USB-C and requires iPhone users to buy a specific cable that goes from the Lightning connector to USB-C ports.
Epcot transformation is underway, here’s how the park is changing
A concept image illustrates announced updates to Disney’s Epcot theme park.
Big changes are coming to Epcot.
The park has been known predominantly for its unique food offerings and annual festivals, but it’s time for an update, says Disney.
The company is embarking on a massive park transformation, updating classic attractions, adding more family-friendly experiences and sprinkling a little more Disney flair around the nearly 40-year-old park. Epcot, which focuses on technology and international cultures, has long been a destination for adults but has been, perhaps, a little too mature for younger parkgoers.
“We love Epcot,” Michael Hundgen, executive producer for Walt Disney Imagineering, said Thursday. “It’s the only one of its kind, there is only one Epcot, and as we thought about the next evolution of this park, we really harked back to Walt. He said Epcot would always be in a state of becoming, and this is sort of the next chapter of that state of becoming for us.”
Disney toured media through several of Epcot’s new but unfinished upgrades, allowing a sneak peek of what’s to come. However, many of the areas were not allowed to be photographed.
A look at a French pantry that guests will drives through during Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure in Epcot in Orlando, Florida.
One of the biggest transformations, and one guests will be able to enjoy next year, is being made to the France pavilion.
Disney is adding Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure, a trackless ride that takes guests through a Pixar version of France. With a little imagination, parkgoers can pretend they have been shrunk down to the size of Remy himself. They will be whisked through a French restaurant on little mouse cars, where danger lurks around every turn.
Walking through this new experience, members of the media gasped at the massive two-ton fish and ham bones dangling from the ceiling. Little else was revealed about what guests will encounter as they scuttle through the kitchen, but the massive refrigerator, oversized fruits and vegetables, including a four-foot tall orange, were enough to whet appetites for more.
France will also add a “Beauty and the Beast” sing-along to its theater and full-scale creperie.
“We are doubling down on the things that we know our guests love about Epcot, the festivals, the showcase, Spaceship Earth itself,” Hundgen said. “And we’re creating more experiences for families, creating more experiences that feel inherently Disney — and we mean characters and, of course, our franchises, but also the emotion connections.”
The goal is to make Epcot more “timeless” and more “relevant,” Hundgen said, but also a place for all generations and ages, not just adults.
He pointed to the addition of “Frozen” characters to the Norway pavilion as a model for changes coming to the France pavilion. Anna, Elsa, Kristoff, Olaf and Sven, who live in Arendelle, a land based on the fjords of Norway, are the perfect intersection between honoring the authenticity of the country of Norway with the magic of Disney.
The hope is to replicate that success in the France pavilion and then again with its new additions planned for the United Kingdom pavilion.
A “Mary Poppins”-themed area is coming to Disney’s Epcot theme park.
The first-ever “Mary Poppins” attraction is coming to Epcot, including a whole neighborhood based on Cherry Tree Lane from the film.
Walt Disney himself had initially envisioned Epcot, which stands for Experimental Prototype Community of Tomorrow, to be an actual city where people lived and worked with new technology. However, after Disney’s death, the company decided not to build and open a city but instead created a new theme park, infused with emerging technology of the time.
Epcot, which opened in 1982, is home to the World Showcase, which features dozens of pavilions of countries from around the globe. This part of the park will remain once Disney’s transformation of Epcot is complete, but it will be joined by three new neighborhoods: Discovery, Celebration and Nature.
The new Spaceship Earth will focus on storytelling, Bob Chapek, chairman of parks, said during Disney’s D23 Expo in August. He said many of the scenes that were part of the original will remain but be updated. New moments will also be added. The exit to the ride will be called Dreamer’s Point and have a new statue of Walt Disney.
World Celebration will feature a wishing tree, a story fountain and a pavilion for live events.
An artist’s rendering of the overhaul of Epcot theme park at Walt Disney World in Florida.
“It is about rounding out family offerings at Epcot, but it’s, at the same time, about doubling down on the things we know work really well,” Hundgen said. “So, festivals are inherently Epcot, and this new home for our festivals, this festival center that is being built, will really become the purpose-built epicenter for all of the content.”
World Discovery will feature a “Guardians of the Galaxy” ride called Guardians of the Galaxy Cosmic Rewind as well as a new Play Pavilion where characters from Disney and Pixar films will appear for meet-and-greets and as part of a digital city.
Disney’s Epcot theme park is adding a “Guardians of the Galaxy” ride.
Mission Space will also be updated with a new restaurant. The restaurant is called Space 220, which is set in a space station sitting high above the Earth. It will open this winter.
Space 220 is a new space station-themed restaurant opening at Epcot this winter.
World Nature will feature The Journey of Water experience based on “Moana.” Epcot will also be getting a new nighttime spectacular called Harmonious. It will debut in 2020.
Disney’s Epcot theme park is adding a new attraction based on the movie “Moana.”
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