Chinese Billionaire Sun Dawu Sentenced To 18 Years In Prison 

Billionaire Sun Dawu is a vocal critic of the Chinese government. Now, Sun has been sentenced to 18 years in prison for “picking quarrels and provoking troubles,” according to an official statement published by the court. 

Sun was arrested back in March, he owns the company Hebei Dawu Agriculture and Animal Husbandry Group, which owns farming operations in China and employs about 9,000 people in poultry processing, pet food production, and other industries. 

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Sun was found guilty of “gathering a crowd to storm state institutions, obstructing public service, picking quarrels and provoking troubles, disrupting production and operation, conducting coercive trade, illegal mining, illegal occupation of agricultural land, illegal absorption of public deposits,” the People’s Court of Gaobeidian said in a statement. 

Dawu was also fined 3.11 million yuan ($480,000) as a part of his sentence. He’s one of very few powerful figures in China who has remained outspoken against the ruling communist party. He publicly accused the government of attempting to cover up the extent of the African swine flu outbreak in 2019, which killed more than 100 million pigs in the nation. 

There have also been local reports that claimed Sun was in the midst of a land dispute with a local government owned farm. Dawu claimed dozens of company employees were injured after a 2020 fight with the police when a group led by Dawu attempted to stop state farm staff from tearing down one of its buildings. 

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Chinese Human Rights Defenders is an advocacy group that recently claimed Sun was “being put on trial as a blatant attempt to punish him for his support of human rights.” 

“Sun Dawu has made extraordinary contributions to improving the life of Chinese citizens living in rural China. His support of rights defenders was an extension of his concern for the welfare of people on the margins of the Chinese economy,” said Ramona Li, senior researcher and advocate for CHRD.

Private enterprises in China have been subjected to multiple restrictive guidelines from the government in recent months. The Communist Party recently said that all private sector entrepreneurs need to be “politically sensible people who will firmly listen to the party.”

Chinese billionaire Ren Zhiqiang was also imprisoned for 18 years back in September 2020 on corruption related offenses. Ren was widely attributed to an essay that referred to Chinese president Xi Jinping as a “clown” for his coronavirus prevention strategy.

Government In Dubai Is Artificially Creating Rain To Combat Extreme Heat Wave

Temperatures in Dubai have regularly been surpassing 115 degrees Fahrenheit, so the government has decided to take matters into their own hands by artificially creating rain to cool the metropolitan area. 

Scientists working in the United Arab Emirates are using electrical charges from drones to manipulate the weather and force rainfall across the dry and desert areas of Dubai. Meteorological officials released video footage showing the rain in Ras al Khaimah and several other hot regions. 

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The method is known as “cloud seeding” and so far is proving to be successful when it comes to minimizing drought conditions in a given area. This technology could become extremely useful in other parts of the world where climate change and extreme heat temperatures are destroying the environment. 

The United Arab Emirates has reported that they receive about 4 inches of rain every year. The government is hoping that if they regularly use this technology to generate rain, it could help alleviate some of the damage caused by the annual heat waves. 

Scientists create these storms by using drones which hit clouds in the sky with electricity. This electricity then creates large raindrops within the clouds that become heavy, and fall, thus creating a man made rainstorm. 

“It’s moving to think that the rainfall technology I saw today, which is still being developed, may someday support countries in water-scarce environments like the UAE,” Mansoor Abulhoul, Ambassador of the United Arab Emirates to the U.K., said.

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“Of course, our ability to manipulate weather is puny compared to the forces of nature. We are mindful that we have a big role to play, by working with global partners to understand and help prevent the worst effects of climate change.” 

Back in 2017, the researchers were awarded a $1.5 million funding grant for what they refer to as “Rain Enhancement Science.” So far the UAE has invested up to $15 million in creating man-made rainstorms. 

“The water table is sinking drastically in UAE, and the purpose of this is to try to help with rainfall,” University of Reading professor and meteorologist Maarten Ambaum said.

The UAE has become one of the first countries to use this technology, and at least 8 states throughout the US are experimenting with different versions of this technology to combat climate change.

Singapore Announces Separate Rules For People Who Received Their Covid-19 Vaccines 

Singapore is introducing new health and safety measures for those who are vaccinated against Covid-19. New cases are continuing to rise in the city, so only fully vaccinated individuals and people who have recovered from Covid-19 will now be able to dine in groups of five without taking a Covid test.

The health ministry made the announcement this week, stating these rules would go into effect on July 19th. Any food and beverage establishment must implement a system so that they can check every patrons vaccination status. 

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Children under the age of 12, who are not yet eligible for the vaccine, are able to dine together with members of their household without taking a Covid test. The press release from the health ministry claimed that individuals are fully vaccinated once it’s been two weeks since their second dose of either the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine. 

Authorities have also stated that those who receive shots developed by China’s Sinovac Biotech will not be given the same perfs as those who have received a Pfizer or Moderna vaccine. Sinovac’s vaccine has not yet been included in Singapore’s national vaccine program, and is only available in the city-state through a special access route. 

A cluster of about 120 new Covid cases have been linked to a KTV lounge in Singapore. Nightclubs, bars, KTV/karaoke lounges have all been banned from operating in Singapore since the beginning of the pandemic. 

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A number of these establishments have been able to remain open, however, by just serving beverages and food and not providing any other entertainment services. The number of new infections hit 127 this week; up 23 from the week before according to the health ministry. 

Singapore in total has experienced about 63,000 cases of Covid-19. Health Minister Ong Ye King recently told reporters that 73% of the population has received at least one dose of their vaccine while 45% of the population is fully vaccinated. 

That figure is currently set to rise by 50% in the coming weeks based on currently scheduled vaccination appointments in the city-state. 

“Our  country is well on track to meet its target of having two-thirds of its population to be fully vaccinated by August 9.”

Unvaccinated parties can still go out to eat at certain establishments, however, they need to endure testing and contact-tracing efforts beforehand.

Australia’s Covid-19 Delta Outbreak Worsening Despite Lockdown Measures 

Sydney, Australia is already debating extending their current lockdown as Australian health officials continue to report a daily rise in Covid-19 cases. These daily rises are specifically fueled by the highly contagious Delta variant of the virus that’s been spreading around the world. 

New South Wales state reported 112 new cases of Covid-19 despite the fact that Sydney, the country’s largest city, is currently entering its third week of lockdown. Case numbers have been reaching record highs every day. New infections luckily dropped slightly this Sunday, from 45 to 34. 

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State Premier Gladys Berejiklian said the “progress of that figure in coming days would determine whether Sydney’s lockdown would be extended. That’s the number we need to get as close to zero as possible. It is really up to us. The health expert advice will be based on what those numbers look like. I can’t be clearer than that.”

Total infections in this particular outbreak are reaching 700. 63 individuals are currently hospitalized while 18 are in intensive care. 

Lockdown measures in Sydney include school closures, stay-at-home orders, and of course mask mandates and social distancing procedures anywhere essential workers are present. Many small business owners are worried about the economic impact of another lockdown if the government doesn’t provide any economic assistance. 

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Australia was able to previously contain their Covid-19 flare-ups with strict lockdowns, speedy contact tracing efforts, and social distancing rules. The nation has experienced 31,200 cases and 911 deaths since the pandemic began. 

Only 11% of Australia’s adult population of 20.5 million have been fully vaccinated. Critics believe a lack of communication with the public and vaccine shortages in general have led to the outbreak the nation is currently enduring. 

Federal health guidance in Australia currently recommends the AstraZeneca vaccine be restricted to individuals over the age of 60 while the Pfizer vaccine is limited to individuals between the age of 40 and 60. 

In New South Wales, vaccine centers and pharmacies will be able to give the AstraZeneca vaccine to anyone over the age of 40. The state government also claimed they would be opening a vaccination hub in western Sydney, which is the epicenter of the outbreak.

9 Arrested Over Plot To Plant Bombs Around Hong Kong 

This Tuesday Hong Kong police arrested nine people due to suspicion that they were engaging in terrorist activity. The officers made the arrest after it was uncovered that the group was attempting to make explosives to allegedly plant around the city. 

Hong Kong is currently rather politically divided, and the past two years have been especially futile. Massive pro-democracy protests have erupted all throughout the city, as well as China in general, and these arrests come just one year after Beijing imposed strict security laws. 

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Of the nine individuals arrested six of them are secondary school students. The group was attempting to make the explosive chemical triacetone triperoxide (TATP) in a homemade laboratory hostel, according to police reports. 

Police claimed “the group planned to use the TATP to bomb court buildings, cross-harbor tunnels, railways, and even planned to put some of these explosives in trash bins on the street to maximize damage caused by society.” 

The authorities said they seized an apparatus and raw materials that would typically be used to make the TATP, as well as trace amounts of the explosive as well. Operating manuals and about 80,000 Hong Kong dollars in cash was also taken in at the scene. 

Police froze around 600,000 Hong Kong dollars worth of assets that may also be linked to the bombing plot. The group was allegedly planning on setting off all the explosives as they left the city of Hong Kong for good.

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TATP is unfortunately a very common chemical among terrorist organizations and groups. Since 2019, Hong Kong police have made multiple arrests over alleged bomb plots and for making TATP illegally. 

Hong Kong chief executive Carrie Lam spoke at a news briefing this week to discuss the threats of violence that Hong Kong is facing. 

“I hope members of the public will openly condemn threats of violence. They should not be wrongly influenced by the idea that there is only government tyranny. They should not be influenced into thinking that they can find excuses to inflict violence.”

Lam claimed that an envelope of white powder had been sent to her office but police concluded this Tuesday that the substance didn’t initially seem to be dangerous, but further tests would still be performed to make sure.

Covid-19 Brazil

Brazil Covid-19 Cases Surge This Week, Breaking Its Single Day Record 

Brazil has broken its record for new Covid-19 cases reported in a single day this Wednesday with 115,228 new cases. This increase is due to the nation’s continuous delays in vaccine distribution.

Brazil’s health ministry and data from Reuters revealed that the country now leads the world for the highest seven-day average of new Covid-19 cases and fatalities; they surpassed India last week, which is also struggling greatly due to a lack of vaccine distribution and access. 

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When it comes to the total number of infections, Brazil is currently in third behind the US and India with about 18 million cases, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University. 

Brazil, however, has now surpassed India in terms of total death, with more than 570,000 fatalities as a result of Covid-19; India has experienced around 392,000 deaths. 

The US and other wealthier countries are seeing cases decline as more and more individuals receive their vaccinations. Other countries haven’t been so lucky in terms of receiving vaccines due to a lack of infrastructure and access. 

According to the Brazilian Health Ministry, 12% of the nation’s population is fully vaccinated. Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro has faced constant protests and criticism from citizens and other political leaders over his lack of action throughout the pandemic and slow distribution of vaccines. 

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According to news reports, “a Brazilian Senate committee is investigating allegations of misconduct in the government’s response, particularly arguments that Bolsonaro did not respond to offers from Pfizer for its vaccine last year, instead making a deal to receive the more expensive inoculation from India’s Bharat Biotech.”

Bolsonaro and former US president Donald Trump received very similar criticism throughout the pandemic in 2020 due to their downplaying of the virus’ severity, and pushing for drug treatments that showed no evidence of preventing Covid-19. 

Bolsonaro has been fined by several local government bodies for not enforcing local mask mandates which led to an exponential increase in cases within the past year. 

He said earlier this month while speaking in Sao Paulo that “those who are fully vaccinated against COVID-19 should not have to wear a mask. Whoever is against this proposal is because they don’t believe in science, because if they are vaccinated, there is no way the virus can be transmitted.”

Hundreds Of Vaccinated Healthcare Workers In Indonesia Get Covid-19 

More than 350 doctors and medical workers have tested positive for Covid-19 despite being vaccinated with Sinovac. Officials made the announcement this week following a growing amount of concerns being raised about the efficacy of some vaccines against the more infectious coronavirus variants. 

Most of the workers who tested positive were asymptomatic and simply had to self-isolate at home. Badai Ismoyo, the head of health offices in the district of Kudus, claimed that dozens of workers have also been hospitalized with high fevers and falling oxygen-saturation levels. 

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Kudos district alone has about 5,000 healthcare workers, and are battling this major outbreak that they believe is being driven by the Delta Covid-19 variant. This variant is much more transmissible than the traditional Covid-19 virus that we’ve been battling for the past year. Additionally, the spreading of this variant has caused Kudos’ bed occupancy rates to reach 90%. 

Healthcare workers were obviously among some of the first to receive their vaccinations as they began being distributed. According to the Indonesian Medical Association, almost all healthcare workers received their vaccines from Chinese company Sinovac. 

“The data shows they have the Delta variant in Kudus, so it is no surprise that the breakthrough infection is higher than before, because, as we know, the majority of healthcare workers in Indonesia got Sinovac, and we still don’t know yet how effective it is in the real world against the Delta variant,” said Dicky Budiman, an epidemiologist at Australia’s Griffith University.

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The World Health Organization approved of the Sinovac vaccine for emergency use this month, claiming the trial data results showed it prevented symptomatic Covid-19 in 51% of all recipients. Indonesia has endured some of the toughest Covid outbreaks in all of Asia, with over 1.9 million cases and 53,000 deaths. 

Siti Nadia Tarmizi, a senior health ministry official, said there had been “no deaths in Kudus since a new outbreak began in the past several weeks among medical workers and those who contracted Covid-19 have had mild symptoms.”

“It is alarming for us because we cannot rely on vaccinations only. I know of at least half a dozen doctors hospitalized with Covid-19 in the past month despite being vaccinated, with one now being treated in an ICU,” said radiologist Dr Prijo Sidipratomo.

Daily new cases in Indonesia have been reaching 10,000 as of this week, with an overall positivity rate exceeding 23% for the country. 

The WHO has recommended that Indonesia tighten their lockdown restrictions and increase certain protocols until infection rates decrease drastically and more of the average population receives their vaccinations.

UK Covid-19 Restrictions To Be Extended Due To Spreading Of Delta Strain 

Britain’s Prime Minister Boris Johnson is expected to announce a delay of the next phase of England’s Covid-19 recovery and reopening efforts this week. According to reports from the British media, England will likely delay entering into the next phase of their reopening by four weeks amid a surge of the Delta variant of the Covid-19 virus which was initially discovered in India. 

Originally, restrictions were due to be lifted on June 21st. These restrictions included the use of face masks, limiting the number of individuals who can meet indoors and outdoors, and what time establishments like nightclubs and bars can close. Reports suggest that the UK could be waiting until July 19th for any of these restrictions to be lifted or modified. 

Currently indoor gatherings are to be limited to six people indoors at a time and 30 people outdoors. People are being advised to continue to work from home whenever possible. 

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Public Health England, a group that has been compiling pandemic data for the UK, has reported this week that 42,323 new cases of the Delta variant have been recorded throughout the country, this is a 240% increase when compared to the amount of cases reported in the previous week. 

So far more than 70 million vaccine doses have been administered throughout the UK, and around 80% of the nation has received at least one dose. However, Public Health England reported that the Pfizer and AstraZeneca vaccines were only 33% effective against the delta variant after a single show. 

Johnson told the media that he was prepared to continue lockdown and remain cautious when it comes to future reopenings. When it is eventually implemented, the fourth (and final) stage of the UK government’s “roadmap” of lockdown will allow for greater social gatherings to occur with less restrictions in terms of facial coverings and social distancing. 

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So far, all three of the government’s previous reopening stages have worked out to plan, so this delay in reopening as an extra precaution is being relatively well received, especially now that more England residents are receiving their vaccines. 

Investors and economic leaders aren’t too worried about the delays in reopenings either, especially considering it’s only set to last another month. 

“Leisure companies could be worst affected by any delay to lockdown easing in England as it will require a continuation of the social distancing rules, meaning pubs and restaurants can’t operate at full capacity,” said Russ Mould, investment director at British stockbroker AJ Bell.

“However, investors don’t seem too bothered by the risk, perhaps because speculation points to a mere four-week delay, albeit during a seasonally busy time.”

Only time will tell how long these delays will last, but the government is remaining positive that the UK will return to a greater sense of normalcy this summer.

Hundreds Arrested In Global FBI Sting Operation Using Undercover Messaging App 

Law enforcement agencies announced this week that hundreds of criminal gangs around the world have been divulging plans to move large drug shipments and carry out killings on a messaging app that was secretly being run by the FBI. The agency said that this was a “global sting operation that dealt an unprecedented blow to organized crime in countries around the world.”

The mission itself was known as operation Trojan Shield and led police to gangs in 16 nations. Over 800 suspects have now been arrested and over 32 tons of drugs were seized; including cannabis, cocaine, amphetamines, and methamphetamines. Additionally, 250 firearms, 55 luxury cars, and more than $148 million in cash and cryptocurrency were seized. 

The operation initially started when law enforcement shut down EncroChat and Sky ECC, two encrypted platforms that were known for being used by criminals to communicate without worry of outside interference. 

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After these lines of communication were cut, the FBI developed their own covert app called ANOM that was installed onto modified phones. Over the past 18 months the FBI has been secretly providing phones using an unsuspecting middleman that infiltrated over 300 gangs operating in more than 100 countries. 

Calvin Shivers, assistant director of the FBI’s Criminal Investigation Division, spoke at a news conference this week about the major operation. 

“Intelligence gathered and analyzed using this app enabled us to prevent murders. It led to the seizure of weapons and it helped prevent a number of crimes. The operation dealt with an unprecedented blow to criminal networks worldwide.”

“There was a void that was created by a lack of these encrypted platforms. So that created an opportunity for collaboration with our international partners, to not only develop the specific tool but also to develop the process of gathering the intelligence and disseminating the intelligence,” Shivers explained. 

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“The ANOM app became popular in criminal circles as users told one another it was safe. Meanwhile, the police were looking over their shoulders the whole time.”

According to a statement from Linda Staaf, the head of Sweden’s national criminal intelligence unit, “Swedish police prevented dozens of planned killings and have arrested what we believe to be leading actors in criminal networks.”

Finnish police reported that they have detained about 100 people and more than half a ton of confiscated drugs, along with hundreds of illegally owned guns and cash. German prosecutors reported more than 70 arrests in connection to the sting. 

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison told reporters the nation’s authorities “arrested 224 people and seized more than four tons of drugs and $35 million. Today, the Australian government, as part of a global operation, has struck a heavy blow against organized crime. Not just in this country, but one that will echo around organized crime around the world.”

“The success of Operation Trojan Shield is a result of tremendous innovation, dedication and unprecedented international collaboration. And the results are staggering,” Shivers proclaimed.

The White House

President Biden ‘Committed’ To Two-State Solution For Israel And Palestine 

Secretary of State Antony Blinken claimed this past Sunday that President Joe Biden is “still committed” to a two-state solution between Israel and the Palestinians. Blinken was interviewed by ABC, where he explained that “repairing the structural damage in Gaza and dealing with the humanitarian crisis stemming from the recent outbreak of violence is most important to the administration.” 

“Biden has been very clear that he remains committed to a two-state solution. Ultimately, it is the only way to ensure Israel’s future as a Jewish and democratic state and, of course, the only way to give the Palestinians the state to which they’re entitled.”

“But that, I don’t think, is something necessarily for today. We have to start putting in place the conditions that would allow both sides to engage in a meaningful and positive way toward two states,” he added.

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The Israeli-Palestinian conflict has been occuring for decades now, and the latest violence has many activists worried that a long-term solution is no where close to feasible right now. 

“In the first instance, we have to deal with making this turn from the violence — we have got the cease-fire — and now deal with the humanitarian situation, deal with reconstruction and deepen our existing engagement with Palestinians and with Israelis alike,” Blinken explained.

Blinken continued to discuss how “the violence is likely to repeat itself if a path forward to help Palestinians live with more dignity and with more hope is not reached.” 

He also credited President Biden’s efforts in the lead-up to the cease-fire between Hamas, who controls both Gaza and Israel, after 11 straight days of destructive warfare that led to the deaths of 248 Palestinians, 66 of which were children; and 12 citizens of Israel, including two children and one Israeli soldier. 

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When asked how the US could help assist Gaza in rebuilding all that’s been lost without directly funding Hamas, Blinken explained that the government “would use independent parties that can help do the reconstruction and development. 

“Hamas is a quasi-government authority that has brought nothing but ruin to the Palestinian people.” 

“What’s the real challenge here is to help the Palestinians and particularly to help moderate Palestinians and the Palestinian Authority deliver better results for their people and, of course, Israel has a profound role to play in that, too,” he said.

As tensions in the Middle East continue, more and more innocent lives are being taken. Activists all around the world have been taking to the streets and social media to express their support and condemnation of the violence that’s occurring to innocent people who were born in a violent space with no protection.