India, July 22 (AP/UNB) — Officials say dozens of people have died in a thunderstorm that struck the north Indian state of Uttar Pradesh.
State disaster relief official Sandhya says that lightning Sunday killed 33 people and injured 13 more. The official who only goes by one name said that 20 houses collapsed in the storm.
Heavy rains and lightning lashed the region when farmers were working in the field.
India Meterological Department official J.P. Gupta says that a low pressure area developed forming a squall line.
Police officer Pradyuman Singh says that seven people were killed in one village while working in a paddy field, including a woman and a child.
Uttar Pradesh's chief minister Yogi Adityanath says families of those killed would receive compensation of 400,000 rupees (about $6,000).
Hong Kong, July 22 (AP/UNB) — Clashes involving Hong Kong's protest movement escalated violently late Sunday as police launched tear gas at protesters who didn't disband after a massive march and subway riders were attacked by masked assailants who appeared to target the pro-democracy demonstrators.
The firing of tear gas was the latest confrontation between police and protesters who have taken to the streets for almost two months to fight a proposed extradition bill and call for electoral reforms in the Chinese territory.
The march had been peaceful when it reached its police-designated end point in Hong Kong's Wan Chai district in the late afternoon, but thousands continued onward, at various points occupying key government and business districts. They then headed for the Liaison Office, which represents China's Communist Party-led central government within the city.
Protesters threw eggs at the building and spray-painted its surrounding surveillance cameras. China's national emblem, which adorns the front of the Liaison Office, was splattered with black ink. The Liaison Office said in comments published on Chinese state media that the acts "openly challenged the authority of the central government and touched the bottom line of the 'one country, two systems' principle."
Later, police threw tear gas canisters at protesters to try to disperse them. Protesters scattered, some heading back in the direction of a key business and retail district. Police remained in place, protecting themselves with shields. Police said on their official social media accounts that protesters threw bricks and petrol bombs at them and attacked the Central police station.
Hong Kong media released video showing masked assailants attacking commuters in a subway station. Among those attacked were protesters clad in their trademark black clothing and yellow hard hats.
The attackers, meanwhile, were dressed in white with black masks pulled over their heads. On Saturday, demonstrators wore white at a counter-rally in support of police.
Footage from Apple Daily showed the attackers using umbrellas to beat people in the station and inside a subway car. Subway passengers filmed by Stand News and iCABLE angrily accused police officers of not intervening in the attack. Stand News reporter Gwyneth Ho said on Facebook that she suffered minor injuries to her hands and shoulder, and was dizzy from a head injury. The South China Morning Post reported several people were bleeding following the attacks, and that seven people were sent to the hospital.
The Hong Kong government said in a statement shortly after midnight that commuters were attacked at a subway station in the city's Yuen Long neighborhood, leading to "confrontations and injuries."
The statement also said some "radical protesters initiated a series of violent acts ... despite repeated warnings" by police. They said the acts included hurling petrol bombs, setting fires and throwing bricks.
"This is absolutely unacceptable to Hong Kong as a society that observes the rule of law," the statement said, referring to the acts of the subway attackers as well as the protesters.
Organizers said 430,000 people participated in Sunday's march, while police said there were 138,000 during the procession's "peak period."
Large protests began early last month in opposition to a contentious extradition bill that would have allowed Hong Kong residents to stand trial in mainland China, where critics say their rights would be compromised.
Hong Kong's leader, Carrie Lam, has declared the extradition bill dead, but protesters are dissatisfied with her refusal to formally withdraw the legislation. Some are also calling for her to resign amid growing concerns about the steady erosion of civil rights in the city.
Hong Kong, a former British colony, was handed back to China in 1997 and was promised certain democratic freedoms under the framework of "one country, two systems." Fueled by anger at Lam and an enduring distrust of the Communist Party-ruled central government in Beijing, the current demonstrations have ballooned into calls for electoral reform and an investigation into alleged police brutality at the protests.
Walking in sweltering heat, protesters dressed in black kicked off Sunday's march at a public park, carrying a large banner that read "Independent Inquiry for Rule of Law."
"Free Hong Kong! Democracy now!" the protesters chanted, forming a dense procession through Wan Chai as they were joined by others who had been waiting in side streets.
"The government has never responded to our demands," said Karen Yu, a 52-year-old Hong Kong resident who has attended four protests since they started. "No matter how much the government can do, at least it should come out and respond to us directly."
Protesters repeated the five points of their "manifesto," which was first introduced when a small group of them stormed the legislature earlier this month. Their main demands include universal suffrage — direct voting rights for all Hong Kong residents — as well as dropping charges against anti-extradition protesters, withdrawing the characterization of a clash between police and protesters as a "riot" and dissolving the Legislative Council.
Protesters read the demands aloud in both English and Cantonese in videos released Saturday.
"We did not want to embark on this path of resisting tyranny with our bare bodies," they said, "but for too long, our government has lied and deceived, and refused to respond to the demands of the people."
While the demonstrations have been largely peaceful, some confrontations between police and protesters have turned violent. In Sha Tin district the previous Sunday, they beat each other with umbrellas and bats inside a luxury shopping center. Demonstrators broke into the Legislative Council building on July 1 by moving past barricades and shattering windows.
On Friday, Hong Kong police discovered a stash of a powerful homemade explosive in a commercial building and arrested a man. Materials voicing opposition to the extradition bill were found at the site, local media said, but a police spokesman said no concrete link had been established and the investigation was continuing.
The People's Daily, the Communist Party's official newspaper, condemned "radical extremists" who attacked the legislature and "trampled" on Hong Kong's rule of law in a front-page column Sunday. The paper said the counter-rally Saturday intended to show support for the police reflected "mainstream public opinion" in Hong Kong.
Puerto Rico, July 22 (AP/UNB) — Puerto Rico Gov. Ricardo Rosselló said Sunday evening that he will not resign in the face of public furor over an obscenity-laced leaked online chat, but he will not seek reelection or continue as head of his pro-statehood political party.
Protesters said they were not satisfied by Rosselló's concessions, and pledged to continue demonstrations that have filled the streets of Old San Juan for more than a week.
"He's stretching things out. We had hoped he'd taken the decision to resign. He's making the people's pain last longer," said Emmarie Morales, a protester from southeast coastal town of Patillas. She said the governor's decision would not end the protests. "He's given us more strength to protest. We aren't going to sit around watching Netflix."
In a brief video posted on Facebook, Rosselló also said he looked forward to defending himself against the process of impeachment, whose initial stages are being explored by Puerto Rico's legislature.
"In spite of everything, I recognize that apologizing isn't enough, that only my work will help restore confidence ...," the governor said. "Facing that scenario, I announce to you that I will not seek reelection next year."
The 889 pages of chat on the encrypted app Telegram between the governor and 11 close allies and members of his administration, all men, showed the governor and his close advisers insulting women and mocking constituents, including the victims of Hurricane Maria.
Just hours after Rosselló spoke, another top official submitted his resignation from the government.
"Unfortunately the events in recent weeks, including the attitudes reflected in the comments of officials and advisers of the current administration, do not match my values ??and principles," wrote Gerardo Portela, who has been principal investment officer, president of Puerto Rico's Economic Development Bank and executive director of the Housing Finance Authority.
Since the chat leaked on July 13, hundreds of thousands of outraged Puerto Ricans have marched to Rosselló's official residence in the largest protest movement on the island since Puerto Ricans successfully demonstrated to demand an end to U.S. Navy military training on the island of Vieques more than 15 years ago.
Puerto Rico's justice secretary, Wanda Vázquez, would assume the governor's role under the territorial constitution's line of succession if Rosselló should quit.
The upheaval comes as the U.S. territory is struggling to recover from Hurricane Maria and trying to restructure part of $70 billion in debt amid a 13-year recession in this territory more than 3 million American citizens who do not have full representation in Congress or a vote for president.
"Today, I have the great responsibility to direct my efforts, and those of my administration, to keep searching for ways and means for us, united before God, to be able to keep guiding our island," the governor said.
But anger grew across the island after his message. A group of legislators and mayors from Rosselló's party remained stuck inside a community center in the upscale city of Guaynabo late Sunday as protesters arrived to demand that the governor resign. The politicians had met earlier with the Rossellór, who managed to leave with his bodyguards before the others became trapped.
On Monday morning, tens of thousands of Puerto Ricans were expected to take over one of the island's main highways to demand Rosselló's resignation as legislators considered whether to take the first steps of the impeachment process.
Arriving late Sunday to prepare for Monday's march was Nicole Quintana, a 32-year-old dentist, along with her husband and their 3-month-old son.
"We had to do it for him," she said, gesturing to her son. She said they drove about two hours from the coastal town of Isabela to participate. "Finally people have said: 'Enough is enough. This ends here.'"
Pressure on Rosselló to step down has grown throughout the week as the chorus calling for his resignation grew to include Puerto Rico music superstars Ricky Martin, Bad Bunny and Residente and a string of U.S. politicians including Congress members from both parties, several Democratic presidential candidates and Puerto Rico's non-voting representative in Congress.
Rosselló was elected governor in November 2016 with nearly 50% of the vote, and he had already announced his intention to seek a second term. A graduate of MIT with a doctorate in genetics, he is the son of former Puerto Rico Gov. Pedro Rosselló, who flew to the island to marshal support after the chat was made public.
The governor belongs to the New Progressive Party, which seeks statehood for the island, and he is also a Democrat. Most of his time has been spent seeking federal funds since Hurricane Maria devastated the island on Sept. 20, 2017, and battling austerity measures implemented by a federal control board that Congress set up to oversee the island government's finances.
The upheaval against Rosselló prompted at least four cruise ships to cancel visits to Puerto Rico, and many officials worry about the impact a resignation would have on the already fragile economy as the island rebuilds from Maria, a Category 4 storm that caused more than an estimated $100 billion in damage.
Another concern is the recent string of arrests involving federal corruption charges targeting Puerto Rico officials, among them two former agency heads, including former education secretary Julia Keleher.
Mexico, July 22(AP/UNB) — Gunmen killed five men and wounded six other people at a popular bar in Acapulco on Sunday, the latest in a string of violent incidents for the once-glamorous Pacific Coast resort city that has fallen on hard times.
The Guerrero state prosecutor's office said the shootings took place in the morning at a watering hole called Mr. Bar, which is on the city's broad coastal avenue across the street from high-rise beachside hotels.
Located in the city's so-called Golden Zone, the bar is frequented by locals and tourists alike. Acapulco is full of summer vacationers, and days earlier authorities launched a security operation for the tourist season.
The victims were all said to be Acapulco residents. Forensic examiners recovered 21 bullet casings from the scene, which was cordoned off by soldiers and police. One suspect was arrested.
Authorities were interviewing witnesses to determine whether the shooting may have been the result of an attack or a dispute between patrons.
Guerrero state and Acapulco have seen high violence and homicide rates. Fashionable decades ago for many in the Hollywood jet-set, the resort city has fallen off among international tourists.
Australia, July 22 (AP/UNB) — Papua New Guinea's prime minister said on Monday his country's relationship with China is not open to discussion during his current visit to Australia.
Prime Minister James Marape is making his first visit to Australia since he became leader of its nearest neighbor and former colony in May.
His visit comes as Australia attempts to counter China's growing influence in the South Pacific by teaming with the United States and Japan to finance infrastructure in Pacific island states that the Chinese have aggressively wooed with loans and aid.
Marape said before his meeting with Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison on Monday that China's relationship with his nation was none of Australia's business.
"We'll discuss PNG-Australia relations with Australia and we'll leave the PNG and China relationship with our discussions with our counterparts in China," Marape told Australian Broadcasting Corp.
"So it's nothing to do with Australia. Australia has good relations with China. We have relations with China. ... We will deal with them to the best of our ability so that PNG wins," he added.
Chinese President Xi Jinping made his first visit to Papua New Guinea last year when Pacific Rim leaders met in the capital Port Moresby for the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit.
The South Pacific island nation has 8 million people, mainly subsistence farmers. The United States and Australia committed to redevelop a Papua New Guinea naval base on Manus Island in an agreement with the previous prime minister, prompting China to caution against "Cold War" thinking. China reportedly wants to establish a naval base in the South Pacific.
The United States is expanding its Marine Corps training hub in the northern Australian city of Darwin — 1,600 kilometers (1,000 miles) southwest of Port Moresby — as part of its strategic pivot to Asia.
The U.S. ambassador to Australia, Arthur Culvahouse Jr., calls China's lending in the Pacific "payday loan diplomacy."