Hong Kong protesters stage peaceful rally, one week after violent break-ins

WORLD NEWS Hong Kong protesters stage peaceful rally, one week after violent break-ins  https://linewsradio.com/hong-kong-protesters-stage-peaceful-rally-one-week-after-violent-break-ins/  http://abcnewsradioonline.com/world-news/

pawel.gaul/iStock(HONG KONG) — Huge crowds of anti-government protesters took to the streets in Hong Kong again on Sunday, in a first major action following a violent break-in into Hong Kong’s legislative council last week.

Organizers claim more than 230,000 people, much more than had been expected, rallied in the afternoon march in the Kowloon area, where most mainland Chinese tourists arrive and shop.

Hong Kong police said there were far fewer protesters, putting the number at about 56,000 at its peak.

Whatever the crowd size, many of the protesters wore black T-shirts and were holding up signs and boards that read “Rise up, Hong Kong,” “No Extradition Bill” and “No rioters, Only despotic rule.”

Some waved British flags, a nod to the territory’s rulers before China.

The extradition bill is currently suspended after weeks of protests, but people were calling for a complete withdrawal of the hated legislation, which would allow transfer of fugitives to the mainland and other jurisdictions with which Hong Kong has no extradition deal.

“The government only suspended the deal. That means it could be brought up again to the legislature anytime. We don’t want to be subject to Chinese law and that’s why we are so angry,” Holly Ho, a student, told ABC News.

A protester said the bill would create “horror.”

“If the Chinese government decides to target someone, they could easily create a situation to get any one of us arrested,” the protester, a man who didn’t want to be identified, told ABC News. “We march now peacefully, but if that bill passes none of us would be alive.”

Hong Kong has been besieged by protests for the past month, sparked by the extradition bill and general dissatisfaction with local politicians.

Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam suspended the bill and apologized for how it was handled, but protesters want it to be formally withdrawn and for Lam to resign.

March organizer Ventus Lau said the purpose of Sunday’s protest was twofold: to reiterate the protesters’ demands to the government and to give mainland visitors a firsthand look at their movement.

“The information is rather blocked in mainland,” he said. “We want to show them the true image and the message of Hong Kongers.”

The march was the first major protest since last Monday, when protesters smashed thick glass walls to break into the city’s legislature building and wreaked havoc inside, spray painting slogans on the walls, overturning furniture and damaging voting and fire prevention systems.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Posted On 08 Jul 2019

Slovenians debate new statue of Melania Trump in her hometown

WORLD NEWS Slovenians debate new statue of Melania Trump in her hometown  https://linewsradio.com/slovenians-debate-new-statue-of-melania-trump-in-her-hometown/  http://abcnewsradioonline.com/world-news/

JURE MAKOVEC/AFP/Getty Images(SEVNICA, Slovenia) — There’s a debate raging in Sevnica, Slovenia, the hometown of America’s first lady, Melania Trump. Is a newly unveiled statue of Trump a tribute — or the work of a troublemaker?

There’s little local debate over Trump: She’s almost unanimously viewed as a symbol of pride, a local girl who made good. But the sculpture of Trump, recently unveiled along a river just a few miles outside of town, ostensibly in honor of the former model, is being criticized by some as not-so-gentle ridicule.

The life-size statue, fashioned by local folk artist Aleš “Maxi” Župevc, was carved with a chainsaw, from a living linden tree. It shows Melania Trump in a rough-hewn approximation of the pale-blue Ralph Lauren coat she wore at the inauguration of her husband, President Donald Trump, in January 2017.

For Sevnica, a tiny industrial town with 5,000 inhabitants, Melania Trump’s likeness is the latest acknowledgement that the local girl’s fame has become a tourist attraction, luring many Americans and other foreign visitors to the quiet, mostly rural area in the eastern part of the central European country.

The wooden statue unveiled Friday features a blocky likeness of Trump, her facial features sketched in cartoonish lines. The 3 1/2-meter monument rises from an ivy-laced tree stump along the banks of the Sava River, with her left arm raised as if waving toward the first lady’s hometown upstream.

The statue was commissioned by 39-year-old Brad Downey, a Kentucky-born artist, based in Berlin for almost two decades. The artist, who goes by Maxi, is an amateur chainsaw sculptor and professional pipe layer. He was born the same month of the same year as the first lady, in the same hospital in the nearby town of Novo Mesto.

But the two have taken hugely different life paths. Downey provided Maxi with a life-size photo of Trump and left the rest to him.

“I don’t know her personally, but she’s my age,” Maxi says in a documentary film Downey directed, which was shot while the sculpture was in the making and is part of his exhibition, “This Echo,” at a gallery in Slovenia’s elegant capital, Ljubljana.

“I wanted to do an artistic investigation of Mrs. Trump through her native region,” Downey explains. “And I wanted a self-taught local artist whose work followed the folk tradition.”

Downey admits his concept is also somewhat political.

“I was inspired to do something about this anti-immigration narrative coming from Donald Trump,” he told ABC News by phone. “It is a blatant contradiction to have a president, who is married to a [legal] immigrant, make stopping immigration a cornerstone of his presidency.”

For the folk artist, the work is more personal.

“She might come and see the thing. She might like it,” Župevc says.

“Let’s face it,” he adds, “she owns half of America, while I have nothing.”

Although the Trump statue has received some positive feedback on Instagram, local residents have mixed opinions.

“It’s really a cultural shock for us,” Mirjana Jelancic, a Sevnica school principal and a close childhood friend of Melania Trump, told ABC News, refusing to elaborate further.

“Why did he have to make her look like an evil stepmother of Pinocchio?” asked Blaž Berginc, a Sevnica pensioner. “What a disgrace!”

But Downey insists, “Most local people were very supportive of the statue. Some even promised to take good care of it.”

“She is our beauty, no matter what, even here. She looks like she just walked out of a beautiful naïve painting,” Mojca Platnar told ABC News. And besides, says another neighbor, Janez Hočevar, “It’s a fun new tourist attraction.”

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Posted On 08 Jul 2019