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The Latest: HK Security Law Trial, Last Miami Building Victim, Tesla Record

The Latest: HK Security Law Trial, Last Miami Building Victim, Tesla Record
A bulldozer transports residents in Zhengzhou, China, after record rainfall displaced one million people in the are

Welcome to Tuesday, where the first person charged under Hong Kong's national security law is found guilty, the final victim of the Miami building collapse is identified, and Tesla reports skyrocketing profits. Meanwhile, The Conversation offers a deep dive into the Australia vs. UNESCO spat over the decision to list the Great Barrier Reef as "in danger."

• First person charged under national security law: The first person charged and tried under Hong Kong's national security law, 24-year old Tong Ying-kit, has been found guilty of terrorism and inciting secession. This landmark case came out a year after the law, imposed by Beijing, was implemented.

• Tunisian president accused of staging coup: After suspending parliament and sacking Prime Minister Hichem Mechichi, President Kaid Saied has also removed the defense minister and acting justice minister from their posts. He imposed a month-long curfew and banned public gatherings, moves that critics describe as a coup.

• South and North Korea restore hotline: South and North Korea have restored hotlines, a year after Pyongyang severed them. South Korean President Moon Jae-in and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un have exchanged multiple letters since April and agreed to restore relations.

• COVID-19 update: Australia's Victoria state may lift its current lockdown but neighboring New South Wales, which includes Sydney, faces an extension as daily cases are spiking. The U.S. has said it will not lift any travel restrictions, in place since early 2020, due to concerns over the Delta variant and the rising number of cases within the the country/ Meanwhile, India has reported 29,689 new cases, its lowest since March.

• Final victim of the Miami building collapse identified: Authorities have identified the final victim of the Miami Surfside collapse, thereby ending a month-long search and recovery operation. A total of 242 people are accounted for, according to Miami Dade Mayor Daniella Levine Cava.

• Naomi Osaka surprise Olympics exit: The 23-year-old Japanese tennis player Naomi Osaka suffered an unforeseen exit in the Olympics after Marketa Vondrousova of the Czech Republic earned a straight-set victory in Tokyo. Osaka, born in Japan, lit the Olympic cauldron to officially open the games and was considered one of the event's biggest local stars.

• Britney Spears asking for new conservator: An attorney for Britney Spears has asked that a new conservator be named to oversee the singer's finances, following allegations that her father, her current conservator, had used the arrangement to mistreat her. Her lawyer requested that accountant Jason Rubin be named conservator of Spears' estate instead.

Tunisian daily Assabah reports on the decision by President Kaid Saied to fire Prime Minister Hichem Mechichi and suspend parliament. The leader argued his actions were not a suspension of the constitution.

$1.1 billion

Tesla has reported a record $1.1 billion as its second quarter net income — more than twice what the company earned in the first quarter. But there's also concern that the company's current success could be derailed in the future due to an ongoing chip and battery shortage.

What is the true risk level for the Great Barrier Reef?

The World Heritage Centre of UNESCO recently revealed its draft decision to list the Great Barrier Reef as "in danger" — a decision that appeared to shock the Australian government.

Environment Minister Sussan Ley suggested UNESCO's decision was a surprise and was politically motivated. In an analysis for The Conversation, Terry Hughes, Jon C. Day and Ove Hoegh-Guldberg look at Australia's reaction so far, and why criticisms of UNESCO's draft decision don't stack up.

Ley worries that the the proposed in-danger listing will have a negative effect on reef tourism. However, there's no evidence from the Galapagos Islands, the Belize Barrier Reef or the Everglades National Park — all World Heritage sites and tourism hotspots — that an in-danger listing led to any discernible impacts on tourist numbers. Most tourists, international or domestic, are already well aware of the pressures facing the Great Barrier Reef, but they are still keen to see it. From 2015–2018, more than 2 million visitors each year used a tourism operator to visit the reef.

Ley also claimed that Australia, and the reef, didn't deserve to be the poster child for climate change perils. But why can't they be? The Great Barrier Reef is one of the most obvious examples of the costs of inaction on anthropogenic climate change. The Great Barrier Reef was inscribed as a World Heritage Area in 1981, and for the past two decades Australia has meticulously documented its ongoing deterioration.

The environment minister also suggests that Australia is doing everything it can to protect the reef — but is it really? UNESCO certainty doesn't think so. The UN agency's draft decision noted that interventions to reduce inshore pollution over the past five years have been "largely deficient." UNESCO also cites Australia's poor progress on reducing emissions as an additional area requiring considerable improvement, to meet the objectives of the Paris Agreement.

➡️ Read more on Worldcrunch.com

Nobody is going to declare ‘mission accomplished".

— A senior administration official told reporters, as U.S. President Joe Biden and Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi formally sealed an agreement to end the U.S. combat mission in Iraq by the end of 2021. "The goal is the enduring defeat of ISIS," he added.

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Joshimath, The Sinking Indian City Has Also Become A Hotbed Of Government Censorship

The Indian authorities' decision to hide factual reports on the land subsidence in Joshimath only furthers a sense of paranoia.

Photo of people standing next to a cracked road in Joshimath, India

Cracked road in Joshimath

@IndianCongressO via Twitter
Rohan Banerjee*

MUMBAI — Midway through the movie Don’t Look Up (2021), the outspoken PhD candidate Kate Dibiasky (Jennifer Lawrence) is bundled into a car, a bag over her head. The White House, we are told, wants her “off the grid”. She is taken to a warehouse – the sort of place where CIA and FBI agents seem to spend an inordinate amount of time in Hollywood movies – and charged with violating national security secrets.

The Hobson’s choice offered to her is to either face prosecution or suspend “all public media appearances and incendiary language relating to Comet Dibiasky”, an interstellar object on a collision course with earth. Exasperated, she acquiesces to the gag order.

Don’t Look Upis a satirical take on the collective apathy towards climate change; only, the slow burn of fossil fuel is replaced by the more imminent threat of a comet crashing into our planet. As a couple of scientists try to warn humanity about its potential extinction, they discover a media, an administration, and indeed, a society that is not just unwilling to face the truth but would even deny it.

This premise and the caricatured characters border on the farcical, with plot devices designed to produce absurd scenarios that would be inconceivable in the real world we inhabit. After all, would any government dealing with a natural disaster, issue an edict prohibiting researchers and scientists from talking about the event? Surely not. Right?

On January 11, the National Remote Sensing Centre (NRSC), one of the centers of the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO), issued a preliminary report on the land subsidence issue occurring in Joshimath, the mountainside city in the Himalayas.

The word ‘subsidence’ entered the public lexicon at the turn of the year as disturbing images of cracked roads and tilted buildings began to emanate from Joshimath.

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