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Republicans vow to block Obama’s apex court pick

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Senate Republicans are in major  confrontation with President Barack Obama as they have vowed not to hold confirmation hearings for his Supreme Court nominee to replace a dead conservative judge amid a tense battle for the White House.

Democrats blasted the “obstructionist and unprecedented” move setting the stage for a major confrontation between America’s finest African-American president and a Republican controlled legislature.

“I can now confidently say the view shared by virtually everyone in my conference is that the nomination should be made by the president who the people elect in the election that is underway right now,” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said on Tuesday.

“In short, there will not be action taken,” he said outraging the Democrats.

Obama has said he intends to nominate a judge to take the place of Justice Antonin Scalia on the nine judge bench and expects the Senate to hold hearings and a vote to confirm the new justice, but Republicans say the next president should make the nomination.

Scalia’s February 13 death has left the nine judge bench now evenly divided 4-4 among liberal and conservative judges.

McConnell’s comments came shortly after Republican members of the Senate Judiciary Committee sent a letter to the Senate leader saying no hearings will be held until Obama leaves office.

“Senator McConnell and the Republican leaders said point-blank they are not going to exercise their Constitutional responsibilities,” Senator Dick Durbin, Assistant Minority Leader said criticising the move.

“This has never happened before — never … and now, McConnell is going to have to wear the collar for it.”

Major cases before the apex court include access to abortion, and an Obama policy to prevent the deportation of undocumented immigrants who have children who are US citizens or lawful residents.

If the court splits 4-4, the decision of the lower court stands, but does not become nationwide precedent.

Meanwhile, a Fox News poll released earlier this month found that registered voters want Obama and Senate leaders to “take action to fill the vacancy now” by a margin of 62 percent to 34 percent.

A Pew Research Centre poll released on Monday found a majority of Americans (56 percent) say the Senate should hold hearings and vote on Obama’s choice to fill the vacancy, with 38 percent saying they should not hold hearings until the next president takes office.

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China warned against ”clear, serious” violation of treaty with UK

The Foreign Office said: “There are 349,881 holders of BN(O) passports and the government estimates there are around 2.9m BN(O)s currently in Hong Kong. The scheme is for eligible BN(O) status holders and their immediate family dependants.”

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Boris Johnson

London, July 2 : UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson said China’s imposition of a new security law in Hong Kong constituted a clear and serious breach of the Sino-British Joint Declaration signed in 1984 and aimed at smoothing the transition when the territory was handed back to Beijing in 1997.

The UK believes that Beijing’s move violates HongKong’s autonomy, threatens the freedoms and rights protected by the joint declaration, and is in direct conflict with the territory”s Basic Law, its mini-constitution.

Addressing the media on Wednesday, Johnson said: “We have made clear that if China continued down this path, we would introduce a new route to those with British National (Overseas) status to enter the UK granting them limited leave to remain with the ability to live and work in the UK and thereafter to apply for citizenship, and that is precisely what we will do now.”

Describing the Chinese move as “a grave and deeply disturbing step”, Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab promised that UK would honour its commitment to the people of Hong Kong.

“We will grant BN(O)s five years” limited leave to remain, with the right to work or study. After these five years, they will be able to apply for settled status.

“After further 12 months with settled status, they will be able to apply for citizenship. This is a special, bespoke, set of arrangements developed for the unique circumstances we face,” Raab told MPs.

Raab did not set out any plan to sanction China or individual Chinese officials through new legislation due to be introduced by the Foreign Office this month.

He also said he was hopeful that other countries in south-east Asia would also offer asylum to Hong Kong citizens wanting to leave.

“China has broken its promise to the people of Hong Kong under its own laws. China has breached its international obligations to the UK under the joint declaration.”

Hong Kong’s autonomy, which now faces threat from Beijing’s imposition of a new security laws, was guaranteed under the “one country, two systems” agreement of the 1984 joint declaration signed by the then Chinese premier, Zhao Ziyang, and British Prime Minister, Margaret Thatcher.

The Foreign Office said: “There are 349,881 holders of BN(O) passports and the government estimates there are around 2.9m BN(O)s currently in Hong Kong. The scheme is for eligible BN(O) status holders and their immediate family dependants.”

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Disaster

96 killed in Myanmar jade mine landslide

Deadly landslides are frequent in Kachin state, known as land of jade, especially in Hpakant mining region.

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Myanmar jade mine landslide

Yangon, July 2 : At least 96 people were killed and many others were reported missing on Thursday after a jade mine collapsed due to a landslide in Myanmar’s Kachin state, authorities said.

Caused by the monsoon rains, the landslide occurred at the jade mining site in Sate Mu village tract of Hpakant township at 8a.m., Xinhua news agency quoted a statement from the Fire Services Department as saying.

Hundreds of miners were feared buried as the landslide took place during their work hours, but the exact number of casualties are yet to be known and rescue works are being carried out, a township police official told Xinhua.

Deadly landslides are frequent in Kachin state, known as land of jade, especially in Hpakant mining region.

A major landslide occurred in the region in November 2015, leaving at least 116 people dead.

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Global COVID-19 cases top 10.6mn: Johns Hopkins University

The US accounted for the world”s highest number of infections and fatalities with 2,685,806 and 128,061, respectively, according to the CSSE.

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RUSSIA CORONAVIRUS

Washington, July 2 : The overall number of global COVID-19 cases has increased to over 10.6 million, while the deaths have soared to more than 515,000, according to the Johns Hopkins University.

As of Thursday morning, the total number of cases increased to 10,667,217, while the fatalities stood at to 515,542, the University”s Center for Systems Science and Engineering (CSSE) revealed in its latest update.

The US accounted for the world”s highest number of infections and fatalities with 2,685,806 and 128,061, respectively, according to the CSSE.

Brazil came in the second place with 1,448,753 infections and 60,632 deaths.

In terms of cases, Russia ranks third (653,479), and is followed by India (585,493), the UK (314,992), Peru (288,477), Chile (282,043), Spain (249,659), Italy (240,760), Mexico (231,770), Iran (230,211), Pakistan (213,470), France (202,981), Turkey (201,098), Germany (195,893), Saudi Arabia (194,225), South Africa (159,333), Bangladesh (149,258) and Canada (106,288), the CSSE figures showed.

The other countries with over 10,000 deaths are the UK (43,991), Italy (34,788), France (29,864), Mexico (28,510), Spain (28,364), India (17,400) and Iran (10,958).

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