National protests shift to memorializing George Floyd amid push for change

ATLANTA — The tenor of the protests set off by the death of George Floyd at the hands of police has taken a turn from the explosive anger that has fueled the setting of fires, breaking of windows and other violence to a quiet, yet more forceful, grassroots call for more to be done to address racial injustice.

Many of the protests were more subdued for a second night as marches turned into memorials for Floyd, who was the focus of a heartfelt tribute Thursday in Minneapolis that drew family members, celebrities, politicians and civil rights advocates. At his service, strong calls were made for meaningful changes in policing and the criminal justice system.

And in a sign protesters’ voices are being heard, more symbols of slavery and the Confederacy came down. Alabama’s port city of Mobile removed a statue of a Confederate naval officer early Friday after days of protests there, while Fredericksburg, Virginia, removed a 176-year-old slave auction block from downtown after several years of efforts by the NAACP. Other Confederate symbols have come down around the South in recent days as calls to remove them intensified during protests over Floyd’s death.

Also Friday, in Jacksonville , Florida, a large group of players, coaches, front office officials from the city’s NFL teams and their families wore Black Lives Matter T-shirts as they walked from TIAA Bank Field to the sheriff’s office headquarters to raise awareness of racial injustice.

At demonstration sites around the country, protesters said the quieter mood is the result of several factors: the new and upgraded criminal charges against the police officers involved in Floyd’s arrest; a more conciliatory approach by police who have marched with them or taken a knee to recognize their message; and the realization that the burst of rage after Floyd’s death is not sustainable.

“Personally, I think you can’t riot everyday for almost a week,” said Costa Smith, 26, who was protesting in downtown Atlanta.

Despite the shift in tone, protesters have shown no sign that they are going away and, if anything, are emboldened to stay on the streets to push for police reforms.

In New York City, Miguel Fernandes said there were “a lot more nights to go” of marching because protesters hadn’t got what they wanted. And Floyd’s brother Terrence appeared in Brooklyn to carry on the fight for change, declaring “power to the people, all of us.”

At the first in a series of memorials for Floyd, the Rev. Al Sharpton urged those gathered Thursday “to stand up in George’s name and say, ‘Get your knee off our necks!’” Those at the Minneapolis tribute stood in silence for 8 minutes, 46 seconds — the amount of time Floyd was alleged to be on the ground under the control of police.

Sharpton vowed that this will become a movement to “change the whole system of justice.”

As the protests have taken root over the past week, they have become communities unto themselves.

In New York, where residents have been stuck at home for nearly three months because of the coronavirus pandemic, residents who can’t go to restaurants are happy to be able to go a protest. People bring their dogs and share snacks and water bottles. They have been heartened by police who have joined them.

“It’s great to be alive, it’s history right now,” said protester Kenyata Taylor.

In Atlanta, protester Nate Saint carried a sign that encouraged people to vote. He attributed the reduction in violence in part to police.

“Cops are recognizing that the more passive they become, the more receptive, the more they listen, the less the protesters are going to react,” he said.

A group of protesters stood near a line of police and National Guard troops. Some cursed officers. Others were seen talking to the officers. It was a different scene from last Friday, when the city experienced widespread vandalism and looting following a peaceful demonstration.

There were still skirmishes in the Bronx and elsewhere. In Buffalo, a police commissioner suspended two officers after video from WBFO showed a man being shoved after walking up to police as they were enforcing a curfew Thursday night. The man appeared to hit his head on the pavement and blood leaked out as officers walked past. The man was hospitalized.

But in Texas, protesters cheered as Fort Worth officers joined the front of a march. Police in Austin also walked with dozens of members of the University of Texas football team as they made their way from campus to the state Capitol to honor Floyd’s memory. Once there, the group and police officers took a knee for nine minutes.

“This protest won’t just stop here,” junior safety Caden Sterns said. “To the white community … if you want change like you say you do, you must change. What I mean is, you must realize, and the oppressor must realize, you are oppressing.”

Protesters in some cities have seen support from the police growing. There have been instances of police kneeling and earlier this week in New York City, the crowd chanted for the officers who were standing in the distance to join them. One eventually did and told them they have support if they remain peaceful.

In Atlanta on Thursday, Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms walked with protesters downtown and told the crowd through a megaphone that “there is something better on the other side of this.”

“We are in the midst of a movement in this country,” she said. “But it’s going to be incumbent upon all of us to be able to get together and articulate more than our anger. We got to be able to articulate what we want as our solutions.”

Mahoney reported from New York. AP journalists contributed reporting from around the United States.

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Nacho Vidal: Arrested porn star says he is innocent after man died in toad venom ritual in Spain

A porn star who is accused of being involved in the death of a photographer during a “mystical ritual” has maintained his full innocence.

Nacho Vidal was arrested along with a man and a woman, aged 37 and 50, on suspicion of involuntary manslaughter and violating public health laws after the death of Jose Luis in Spain last year.

A statement from police, given to local Spanish press, said Mr Luis died after taking part in a ceremony where poisonous toad fumes were inhaled.

It said: “Officers began the investigation after the death of a person during a mystical ritual involving the inhalation of vapours from the venom of the bufo alvarius toad.

“At the conclusion of an 11-month investigation, we have been able to establish that an offence of involuntary manslaughter and a public health offence had occurred, allegedly committed by those who organised and presided over the ritual.”

Lawyers for Vidal, 46, told Sky News in a statement that the he was “deeply affected by the death of Jose Luis” and was complying with Spanish courts.

Daniel Salvador, of Vosseler law firm, said: “Nacho Vidal states that he is deeply affected by the death of Jose Luis and despite this pain, he maintains his full innocence. Nacho Vidal has not been responsible for the event.

“Everything that happened was an unfortunate accident that has ended with the worst outcome.

“These events took place a year ago, and he fully sympathises with the family’s pain at having to relive all these sad circumstances.

“Nacho Vidal has given the appropriate explanations before the investigating court and hopes to demonstrate his total innocence.”

Vidal has starred in nearly 500 adult films, with his first credit dating back to 1997.

As a side from making films, he has an online shop where he sells body oil, candles and perfume.

The bufo alvarius toad, or Colorado River toad, is one of 400 species of Mexican frogs.

When it produces a venom, known as 5-MeO-DMT, it is a potent psychoactive substance.

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Dutch PM sceptical about Black Pete tradition

Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte says his attitude to Black Pete – a character traditionally played by a white person in black face paint – has undergone “major changes”.

He said he used to be among those who argued that “Black Pete is just black”, accepting the Dutch tradition.

But now he expects the tradition to die out, he told the Dutch parliament.

He was speaking after Dutch protests triggered by the death of George Floyd in police custody in Minneapolis.

Thousands rallied in Amsterdam and Rotterdam earlier this week in solidarity with US demonstrations over the unarmed black man’s death.

For years anti-racism campaigners in the Netherlands have been protesting over Black Pete (“Zwarte Piet” in Dutch), seeing the 5 December tradition as an offensive relic of colonial times.

Supporters, meanwhile, argue that it is a harmless part of Christmas celebrations enjoyed by children.

Mr Rutte, a liberal, said he expected that in a few years’ time there “will be no Zwarte Piets any more”.

He said many people, including children, had told him they felt discriminated against because Black Pete is black.

“And I thought, that’s the last thing we want during Sinterklaas (Santa Claus) celebrations.”

On Wednesday he stated that racial discrimination affected many people in the Netherlands. He was responding to journalists’ questions about the unrest in the US linked to George Floyd’s death.

In 2014 he revealed that he had dressed up as Black Pete – with blackface – himself in the past.

Some Dutch people playing Black Pete now dab soot on their cheeks, as an alternative to blackface.

A prominent anti-racism campaigner opposed to Black Pete, poet Jerry King Luther Afriyie, welcomed Mr Rutte’s comments, tweeting: “Nice. Better late than never! Now let’s get rid of Zwarte Piet and we can all enjoy a party for all children.”

There was mockery for Mr Rutte from anti-immigration populist Geert Wilders, who tweeted that the PM “is now joining the leftist multi-culti camp and opposing Zwarte Piet”.

The Freedom Party (PVV) leader went on: “We have a prime minister who now stands for nothing. The PVV holds on to national traditions well, for us Zwarte Piet will forever remain black!”

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Egyptian girls 'tricked into FGM' with COVID-19 vaccine

Criminal charges brought against father, doctor for cutting genitals of three minors under vaccination pretext.

Egyptian authorities will prosecute the father of three girls who they say were tricked into undergoing female genital mutilation (FGM) and the doctor who performed the illegal surgery.

The prosecutor-general said the girls, all minors, had been told the doctor was coming to vaccinate them against the coronavirus, but instead they were injected with a drug that knocked them out and they were operated on.

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FGM is illegal in Egypt and when the girls, whose parents are divorced, told their mother what had happened she reported it to police.

“The public prosecution has ordered the referral of a doctor and the father of three girls to an urgent criminal trial,” said an official statement released on Wednesday.

It said the doctor was charged with performing the procedure and the father with assisting him in the alleged crime.

Egypt banned FGM in 2008 and made it a felony in 2016, but the procedure remains rife in the Muslim-majority country, with many believing it promotes women’s chastity.

Doctors who perform the procedure can now be jailed for up to seven years and anyone requesting it be carried out faces up to three years in jail.

No one has been successfully prosecuted under the 2016 law and women’s rights groups in Egypt say the ban has not been well enforced. 

Ancient ritual

Investigators said the doctor had given the girls – all under the age of 18 – a general anaesthetic, according to the prosecutors’ statement.

“They lost consciousness and when they woke up they were shocked to find their legs bound together and a sensation of pain in their genitals,” it said.

A forensic report revealed “the excision of … reproductive organs”.

Women’s rights campaigners said the mother’s decision to report the crime showed awareness of the damage FGM causes was increasing and welcomed what they said was decisive action by the authorities.

“It is encouraging that authorities have started to take action against female genital mutilation and that girls and mothers have become more aware of the dangers of the procedure,” Entessar el-Saeed, head of the Cairo Center for Development and Law, told Reuters News Agency.

The head of Egypt’s National Council for Women Maya Morsi also welcomed the swift prosecution, tweeting there should be no tolerance for the practice.

A 2016 survey by the UN Children’s Fund, UNICEF, showed 87 percent of Egyptian women and girls aged 15-49 had undergone FGM.

World leaders have pledged to eradicate FGM by 2030, but campaigners say the ancient ritual, which typically involves the partial or total removal of the external genitalia, remains deeply entrenched in many places.


Al Jazeera Correspondent

The Cut: Exploring FGM

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Philippines' Duterte renews threat to kill drug dealers after big bust

MANILA (Reuters) – Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte renewed on Friday a threat to kill drug dealers after police seized 756 kg (1,667 lb) of methamphetamines, a haul he said proved the Southeast Asian country had become a transhipment point for narcotics.

The crystal methamphetamine, with a Philippine market value that police put at 5.1 billion pesos ($102.22 million), was one of the biggest seizures since Duterte unleashed his bloody war on drugs, which has defined his presidency, in 2016.

“If you destroy my country distributing 5.1 billion pesos worth of shabu … I will kill you,” Duterte said in recorded address, referring to the drugs.

He did not say where the drugs were believed to have come from but said the Philippines was a transhipment centre for Mexican drugs gangsters.

Duterte also hurled insults at human rights groups for criticising his anti-narcotics campaign.

The United Nations said in a report on Thursday tens of thousands of people in the Philippines may have been killed in the war on drugs amid “near impunity” for police and incitement to violence by top officials.

But government data put the number of suspected drug dealers and users killed in police anti-narcotics operations since July 2016 at 5,600.

Rights group have said the police summarily executed suspects. Police have denied that saying they have acted in self defence when suspects resisted arrest.

Duterte’s office dismissed the U.N. report as “rehashed claims” and the accusation of impunity as unfounded.

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Trump on the brink as presidential campaign faced with MASSIVE challenges

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The US President has seen a disastrous 2020, with the COVID-19 pandemic, worsening relations with China and now protests after the death of George Floyd. Recent polling suggests that it is likely the incumbent Trump narrowly loses his presidency this November 3.

On Thursday, president Trump meet with top campaign advisers to strategise how he can recover from a series of national crises.

Trump sat down at the White House with campaign chairman Brad Parscale, White House chief of staff Mark Meadows, senior adviser Jared Kushner, Republican National Committee chair Ronna McDaniel, deputy campaign manager Bill Stepien and pollster Tony Fabrizio, among others.

A campaign official said that the president had a second, larger meeting with a broader group of campaign and RNC officials where he discussed attack lines for use on his likely opponent in the Nov. 3 election, Democrat Joe Biden.

The official said: “When Joe Biden is defined, the president runs very strong against him, especially in our target states.

“That’s something we’re going to work toward.”

President Trump was described as upbeat and engaged at the meeting.

However, one source familiar with his thinking said he has been frustrated as he struggles to respond to a crushing set of problems.

Trump on Friday canceled a planned weekend visit to his golf resort in Bedminster, New Jersey, an FAA advisory said, thus sparing him criticism about the optics of such a trip.

In recent weeks, the president had drawn criticism for his golf trips in the middle of Memorial Weekend.

In the meeting, Trump expressed a desire to engage more with the African American community, the campaign official said.

The official said: “The president was really engaged on that topic and wants to move the needle and talk to voters.”

The president has touted prison reform and funding for historically black colleges and universities as helpful for the community.

He has also called George Floyd’s death a “grave tragedy” and said he respected the rights of peaceful protesters, but faced criticism for not showing more empathy and a way forward for improving race relations.

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Trump has pushed a law-and-order theme in the wake of protests that grew violent last weekend.

Doug Heye, a former Republican National Committee official and frequent Trump critic, said: “As awful [seeing the protests worsen] is, it does allow Trump the opportunity to reframe the debate the way he wants it to be – law and order versus chaos.

“That is part of the conversation that he wants.”

It was also rumoured that the president would likely have run his campaign on the back of a strong economy, which saw the US GDP at it’s all time highest in 2019.

But since the coronavirus lockdown, more than 40 million people have been forced from their jobs, and the GDP has tanked.

Most public polls have recently put the president behind rival Joe Biden, which gives the presumptive Democratic nominee a lead nationally and in key battleground states.

But Trump has brushed aside polling in an interview with Fox News Radio’s The Brian Kilmeade Show.

He said: “I have other polls where I’m winning, and you’ve seen them too, I guess.”

In 2016, the national polling average had put Hillary Clinton at 45.9 percent and Trump at 42.8 percent, giving Mrs Clinton an 84 percent chance to win the presidency – Trump handily won the election that year, despite not winning the popular vote.

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Turkey to impose coronavirus curfews in 15 cities: Live updates

Weekend lockdown will be in effect in major Turkish cities including Ankara, Istanbul and Izmir.

  • Iran marked its highest daily jump since the beginning of the coronavirus outbreak with 3,574 coronavirus cases. The figures marked the third consecutive day that the country recorded more than 3,000 daily new infections.
  • Turkey is set to impose a weekend curfew in 15 cities to curb the spread of the virus. 
  • The coronavirus death tolls in Brazil and Mexico have soared to new daily records, with 1,349 and 1,092 confirmed fatalities, even as the countries begin to ease lockdown restrictions. Brazil now has more than 32,000 deaths, while Mexico has over 11,000.
  • Around 6.6 million coronavirus cases have been confirmed around the world, according to data from Johns Hopkins University. More than 389,000 people have died, including some 108,000 in the US. More than 2.8 million people have recovered from the disease.

Here are the latest updates:

June 5, Friday

01:22 GMT – Brazil’s death toll surges to third-highest in world  

Brazil’s death toll from the new coronavirus has overtaken Italy’s to become the third-highest in the world, according to official figures.  

The South American country of 210 million people reported a new record of 1,473 deaths in 24 hours, bringing its overall toll to 34,021, from 614,941 infections, the health ministry said.  

Italy has confirmed 33,689 deaths from 234,013 infections.

01:07 GMT – Fiji says all COVID-19 patients recovered

Frank Bainimarama, the prime minister of Fiji, said all coronavirus patients in the Pacific island nation have now recovered.

“And even with our testing numbers climbing by the day, it’s now been 45 days since we recorded our last case. With no deaths, our recovery rate is 100%” he wrote in a tweet.

00:42 GMT – Patients with high blood pressure ‘twice as likely to die’

Patients with high blood pressure admitted to hospital with coronavirus infections are twice as likely to die as those without the condition, according to a new study.

For in-patients with the virus who had stopped taking medication for high blood pressure, the risk of dying doubled again, they reported in the European Heart Journal.

“It is important that patients with high blood pressure realise that they are at increased risk of dying from COVID-19,” said senior author Fei Li, a cardiologist at Xijing Hospital in Xian, China.

The study also found that widely used drugs to control high blood pressure may help protect against severe COVID-19, allaying concerns that they could make the illness caused by the coronavirus worse.

00:15 GMT – Turkey to impose weekend curfew in 15 cities

Turkey will impose a two-day weekend curfew in 15 cities as part of efforts to prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus, the interior ministry said.

In a statement, the ministry said the lockdown will be in effect in Ankara, Istanbul, Izmir, Balikesir, Bursa, Eskisehir, Gaziantep, Kayseri, Kocaeli, Konya, Manisa, Sakarya, Samsun, Van and Zonguldak.

Markets, grocery stores and butcheries can operate during the lockdown, it added.

00:07 GMT – Argentina extends lockdown in Buenos Aires

Argentina extended until June 28 a mandatory lockdown in capital Buenos Aires and other areas with high cases of coronavirus, President Alberto Fernandez announced, after the country surpassed 20,000 confirmed cases earlier in the day.

Argentina’s lockdown, which was due to expire on June 7, has been in place since March 20, though officials relaxed restrictions in some areas of the country.

Hello and welcome to Al Jazeera’s continuing coverage of the coronavirus pandemic. I’m Zaheena Rasheed in Male, Maldives.

You can find all the updates from yesterday, June 4, here.

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China takes a victory lap over US protests

The US mass protests are raising eyebrows around the world, but China is watching with particular interest.

As anti-racism protests sweep across the US, Beijing has seized upon them to hit back at Washington for supporting last year’s Hong Kong pro-democracy demonstrations.

Chinese state media have given extensive coverage to the protests, highlighting the chaotic scenes and alleged police brutality in America to claim that China enjoys greater social stability.

Speaking to an international audience, Chinese diplomats are attempting to portray Beijing as a responsible global leader, standing in solidarity with other countries in condemning the racial disparity and injustice in the US.

‘A beautiful sight’

China’s state news agency Xinhua described the US civil unrest as “Pelosi’s beautiful landscape” – a reference to US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s comment last summer that the Hong Kong protests were “a beautiful sight to behold”.

State media Global Times’ chief editor Hu Xijin wrote that American politicians now can “enjoy this sight from their own windows”.

Beijing has long condemned American politicians, including Ms Pelosi, for “glorifying violence” coming from the Hong Kong demonstrators, who are categorised by China as “rioters showing signs of terrorism”.

Protests paralysed Hong Kong for most of last year, prompting Beijing to impose a new national security law in the territory in May, only two weeks ahead of the anniversary of the Tiananmen Square crackdown.

Aynne Kokas, senior faculty fellow with the University of Virginia’s Miller Center for Public Affairs, says that both the US and China are contending with a high level of domestic instability triggered by the global coronavirus pandemic and political events.

“Now is a key moment through which China is able to leverage the lack of stability in the US, in order to more efficiently promote its own national security goals,” she says.

Criticism over US applying ‘double standard’

Chinese and Hong Kong officials have also called out the US for applying “double standards” in its response to civil unrest.

“You know there are riots in the United States and we see how local governments reacted,” said Hong Kong’s leader Carrie Lam.

“And then in Hong Kong, when we had similar riots, we saw what position they adopted then.”

The officials’ view is shared by many Chinese social media users, who dub America “the double standard nation”.

Allegations of excessive use of police force during the US protests have been put under the spotlight by Chinese state media, to delegitimise Washington’s position on upholding freedom and democracy.

In one example, state broadcaster China Central Television reported on American journalists being pepper sprayed and a freelance photographer partially blinded by a rubber bullet while covering the protests.

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Georgia State University Global Communication Assistant Professor Maria Repnikova says that the scale and intensity of Chinese state media coverage on the US protests is unprecedented.

“It’s powerful, because they are not making it up,” Prof Repnikova says, but she points out that Chinese state media have cherry-picked the more peaceful pictures of Hong Kong police and the most violent ones from the US.

China itself has been heavily criticised for cracking down on press freedom, which is rarely mentioned by the government and state media.

On Weibo, many see America’s freedoms and democracy as at risk, as police fired tear gas at peaceful protesters and military was deployed to quell the protests.

Ms Kokas says: “Chinese state media don’t have to craft a narrative, they can just talk about the objective events that have happen in Washington DC, that undermines the very principal of freedom of speech and freedom of assembly.”

The US’s rhetoric about the democratic rights of Hong Kong now seems “very hollow”,she adds, “when military helicopters are flying over [Washington] DC”.

Chinese diplomats condemn US racism

The increasingly outspoken Chinese diplomats have seized the chance to spotlight the US’s governing failure and promote Beijing as a more responsible global leader.

Ms Kokas describes this as a continuation of the country’s propaganda strategy on the Covid-19 pandemic – when America fails, China is here to help.

Chinese diplomats on Twitter retweeted messages of UN and African Union officials, condemning racial discrimination and police brutality in the US.

The Chinese foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying tweeted “I can’t breathe”, with a screencap of the US state department spokeswoman Morgan Ortagus’ previous criticism over Beijing’s handling in Hong Kong.

But another of Hua’s messages denouncing anti-black racism backfired on Twitter, as she included “all lives matter”, a phrase often used to undermine the “black lives matter” movement.

Meanwhile, there are reports that African residents in the southern Chinese city of Guangzhou have been discriminated against and forced into quarantine during the coronavirus pandemic.

Beijing has not officially apologised for any mishandling, only stating that there were some “misunderstandings”.

One Weibo user expresses “disappointment”, as the person sees “some Chinese criticise others for racial discrimination, but when it comes to their own anti-black racism, they take it for granted”.

China is also accused of detaining hundreds of thousands of Uighurs and other Muslim minorities in high-security prison camps in its far western Xinjiang region.

Anti-America sentiment on the rise

There’s no doubt US protests have sparked heated discussion on Weibo – the topic is one of the most popular on the site this week. Related posts have earned more than 25 billion views.

Many Weibo posts “congratulate” the US for the civil unrest and push back at its support for the Hong Kong demonstrations.

One user writes: “The US government has been inflaming violence around the world, now the American people have finally woken up. The US government deserves this!”

And Beijing and its state media spread the theory that Washington was fomenting the protests in Hong Kong, calling it a “black hand” behind the unrest.

As US-China relations have soured due to the Hong Kong protests, trade conflicts and the pandemic, anti-America sentiment appears to be on the rise in China.

Thousands of Weibo comments describe the US protests as “karma” for Washington.

But some Chinese seem genuinely saddened by the situation.

“This is trampling on human rights! Democracy in the US came to an end at this exact moment,” a Weibo user commented under a video showing the CNN reporter getting arrested, receiving thousands of likes.

Many on Weibo also voice support for the civil rights movement. “Nothing much has changed after generations of fights. I hope this time will yield better results,” a comment reads.

Some Chinese also reflect on the weaknesses of their country.

One Weibo user writes about being “envious of the freedom of expression” in the US, as anti-government protests are often forcefully cracked down in China.

Some posts urge the state media to cover China’s domestic police violence and injustice with the same level of dedication.

But liberal voices are often met with harsh criticism.

State-affiliated yet liberal leaning newspaper Beijing News published a commentary advocating for empathy and respect for the American people, but it was quickly slammed as taking a “pro-America” stance and received tens of thousands of negative comments on Weibo.

Social media has always been an imperfect window to observe China’s public opinion. Its echo chamber effect is exacerbated by the country’s information censorship.

Prof Repnikova says that the relatively liberal views may become even more marginalised on Chinese social media, as cyber nationalism, a combination of bottom-up sentiments and top-down propaganda tactic, is increasingly dominant on the sites.

“The more aggressive, nationalistic and vocal voices are taking over the space,” she says.

Additional reporting by Yitsing Wang

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Tropical Storm Cristobal spaghetti models: When will storm hit Louisiana?

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Tropical Storm Cristobal is currently tearing across eastern Mexico and it is expected to emerge into the Gulf of Mexico late on Friday. The storm’s probability of making landfall in the US as a tropical storm remains likely according to WeatherTiger’s chief meteorologist. But when exactly is Cristobal due to hit Louisiana?

Tropical Storm Cristobal has battered Mexico with damaging and deadly flooding across portions of Mexico and Central America.

The storm is expected to produce additional extreme rainfall amounts through the end of the week.

The heaviest rainfall is anticipated across southern Mexico and portions of the Yucatan Peninsula, while also extending along the Pacific coast from Chiapas to Guatemala and El Salvador.

Residents across these regions have been warned the rainfall could produce widespread life-threatening flash floods and mudslides.

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  • Tropical Storm Cristobal tracker: USA in path as storm strengthens

According to the most recent report from the NOAA’s National Hurricane Center issued at 10am CDT (4pm BST) has weakened to a depression but is continuing to produce heavy rains and life-threatening flooding.

The storm was located near longitude 17.6 north and latitude 91.0 west which is around 160 miles south-southwest of Campeche, Mexico.

Cristobal was moving at three mph and packing winds of 35mph.

The NHC’s report reads: “A turn toward the east and northeast is expected later today, and a subsequent northward motion should occur through Sunday.

“On the forecast track, the centre will move over the land mass of extreme northwestern Guatemala and eastern Mexico today and tonight.

“The centre is forecast to move back over the southern Gulf of Mexico Friday or Friday night, over the central Gulf of Mexico on Saturday, and approach the northern Gulf of Mexico coast Sunday and Sunday night.”

Weather forecasters forecast heavy rainfall will hit parts of Mexico through Saturday.

The Mexican states of Campeche, Quintana Roo, Tabasco, and Yucatan are likely to see between six and 12 inches, with isolated regions getting totals of 25 inches.

In addition, Veracruz and Oaxaca in Mexico are due to receive between five and 10 inches of rainfall.

Southern Guatemala and parts of Chiapas will see an additional 15 to 20 inches, with some regions getting up to 35 inches.

In El Salvador, an additional 10 to 15 inches is expected, whereas in Belize and Honduras three to six inches is anticipated with isolated areas getting up to 10 inches.

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Cristobal is forecast to emerge again over the southern Gulf of Mexico on Friday and move northward over the central and northern Gulf of Mexico over the coming weekend.

There is a risk of tropical-storm-force winds this weekend from Louisiana to the western Florida Panhandle.

In addition, there is a risk of dangerous storm surge from Louisiana to the Florida Big Bend.

These hazards, along with heavy rainfall, will arrive well in advance of and extend well east of the tropical storm’s centre.

Tropical storm and storm surge watches could be issued on Thursday night or on Friday.

According to spaghetti models, the storm is forecast to steadily track towards the US coast in Louisana in the coming days.

On Sunday at 7am CDT (1pm BST), the storm is expected to be located at latitude 26.7 north, longitude 90.6 west which is over water.

However, by Monday at 7am CDT (1pm BST), Cristobal is expected to be located inland in Louisana packing winds of 40mph.

The storm is expected to continue to track northwards arriving in Arizona on Tuesday with winds reaching 30mph.

Accuweather’s hurricane expert Dan Kottlowski said: “There is a small chance the system will break up over southern Mexico late this week, but the more likely scenario is for the storm to survive, move back out over the warm waters of the central Gulf of Mexico, reorganize, strengthen and turn northward toward the U.S. from Friday night to Sunday night.

“We’ve expected Cristobal to weaken to a tropical depression for a time over Mexico on Thursday.

He added the forward motion of Cristobal is expected to be slow at first but the system is likely to gain in speed later this weekend.

Mr Kottlowski said: “Provided Cristobal does not get beaten down too much by interaction with Mexico, there is a chance the storm strengthens to a hurricane over the central Gulf of Mexico later this weekend, prior to reaching the US.”

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Man ‘used racial slur’ after shooting black jogger

One of the men accused of murdering unarmed black man Ahmaud Arbery in the US state of Georgia used a racial slur after shooting him, a court has heard.

A Georgia state investigator said Travis McMichael used the slur and an expletive as Mr Arbery lay on the ground.

Mr Arbery was jogging when he was chased down by Mr McMichael and his father in Brunswick in February.

The case caused widespread outrage after footage was leaked online.

Travis and Gregory McMichael are facing murder charges. Another man, William Bryan, faces charges of murder and criminal attempt to commit false imprisonment.

A rally has been taking place outside the Glynn County courthouse, where the preliminary hearing was being held, and further protests are expected.

Huge protests have been taking place across the US following the death of another unarmed black man, George Floyd, in police custody last month.

What did the Georgia investigator say in court?

Special Agent Richard Dial of the Georgia Bureau of Investigation told the court that co-defendant William Bryan heard Travis McMichael use the slur after shooting Mr Arbery.

“Mr Bryan said that after the shooting took place before police arrival, while Mr Arbery was on the ground, that he heard Travis McMichael make the statement,” Agent Dial said.

He described how the McMichaels and Mr Bryan chased Mr Arbery in pick-up trucks as he jogged in their neighbourhood.

Mr Arbery “just enjoyed running”, Agent Dial said.

What happened to Ahmaud Arbery?

In the moments before the fatal confrontation, the McMichaels, who are white, armed themselves with a pistol and shotgun and pursued Mr Arbery in a pickup truck in the Satilla Shores neighbourhood.

Gregory McMichael told police he believed that Mr Arbery resembled the suspect in a series of local break-ins.

Mr Bryan’s 36-second video leaked online on 5 May, generating a nationwide outcry that was swiftly followed by murder charges. It was filmed by Mr Bryan from his vehicle while he was driving behind Mr Arbery.

The clip appears to show Mr Arbery running down a tree-lined street as the McMichaels wait ahead for him in their vehicle.

A tussle follows between the younger McMichael and Mr Arbery, who falls to the ground.

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