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China's Hong Kong crackdown was decades in the making. After completing negotiations to hand back Hong Kong to China, British Prime Minister, Margaret Thatcher, recorded in her diary that she was "seriously disturbed by the Chinese insistence on recovering sovereignty over Hong Kong".

China's Hong Kong crackdown was decades in the making

The Iron Lady has been proven right. Today, the Chinese Communist Party has a stranglehold on Hong Kong. Beijing's latest move to strip the number of directly elected representatives in the Hong Kong legislature is another sign that the promise of "one country, two systems" is in tatters. Pro-democracy groups are being silenced just as protesters have been driven from the streets. There are currently 35 directly-elected members in the 75-strong Legislative Council.

The council is being expanded to 90, but voters will get to choose only 20 representatives. And Beijing will approve candidates for office — only those deemed "patriots". Locking up activists, crushing protest, choking opposition: this is life for the people of Hong Kong in Xi Jinping's China. A new power has risen in Australian politics — and it's not coming quietly. What we're seeing right now in federal Parliament is something you very rarely get to see: The emergence of a new head of power.

A new power has risen in Australian politics — and it's not coming quietly

Power shifts in politics are not rare. They happen all the time, in ways either big or small. Someone gets promoted or resigns in disgrace; that's a small shift. A minor party acquires the balance of power in the Senate, and suddenly the members of that party go from "Random Nutter" status in the Prime Minister's Rolodex to "Invite to Lodge Immediately". China's Communist Party wants its citizens to know about the world’s human rights abuses. Just not its own.

Under pressure from Western nations over human rights concerns in its far west, China's government has taken an unlikely turn.

China's Communist Party wants its citizens to know about the world’s human rights abuses. Just not its own

It has become a vocal advocate of progressive causes — as long as they're not in China. In recent weeks, China's Foreign Ministry spokespeople have been making statements and firing off tweets in English slamming Australia, the EU, Canada and the US for past and present human rights problems. It is a marked departure from China's once-touted policy of "non-interference". The rhetorical broadsides are in response to increasing criticism and, in some cases, sanctions over China's treatment of minority Uyghurs in the far western Xinjiang region, which the US government and the Canadian parliament have termed 'genocide'. China has mobilised huge resources to not only reject the concerns, but also seek to control the international narrative.

China cancels Western fashion brands. There's a sense Scott Morrison's edifice of processes is teetering. Will it come crashing down? It was at some point shortly after 8:00am on Thursday that the full extent of the political chaos currently seeming to engulf the Prime Minister's mind became crystal clear.

There's a sense Scott Morrison's edifice of processes is teetering. Will it come crashing down?

"Can you categorically say," asked Sabra Lane, the host of the ABC's AM program, "that your office hasn't been backgrounding against one of [Brittany Higgins] loved ones? " "No one," Scott Morrison primly responded. "There has been no one in the gallery, nothing has been raised with my office from anyone in the gallery making any of those accusations or any discomfort about anything that my office has done. " People make allegations "all the time second, third-hand," he said. Joe Biden sent his lieutenants to Asia to build a wall of friendship against China. Then came an awkward showdown with Beijing. You only get your first, once.

Joe Biden sent his lieutenants to Asia to build a wall of friendship against China. Then came an awkward showdown with Beijing

And America's new chief diplomat only gets one first trip abroad, so they want to make it count. The new Secretary of State, Antony Blinken, joined on the trip by new Secretary of Defence Lloyd Austin, stressed that choosing Japan and Korea wasn't an "accident". They wanted to send a message about the importance of these relationships after the previous administration took a rather unorthodox approach to the region. But just as the choice of location wasn't accidental, nor were the well-considered and prepared remarks from the top diplomat and military boss towards the biggest country in Asia. Repeatedly in both Tokyo and Seoul, after paying homage to their hosts and still standing next to them, the delegation took aim at China. Christian Porter is correct — this is an extremely unsatisfactory state of affairs. The "rule of law" is a fine thing.

Christian Porter is correct — this is an extremely unsatisfactory state of affairs

It is, at its simplest, the principle that laws be applied equally, that an accused is innocent until proven guilty, that proper checks and balances exist upon the exercise of power, that access to justice be available for all. Christian Porter — the Attorney-General, the custodian of Australian laws — this week appeared drawn and pale as he confronted the disorienting prospect of a world in which the rule of law did not apply. Anyone who has witnessed the frightening power of online mobs or the ability of demagogues to inflame real-world violence with lies cannot help but feel sympathy for his shaken plea that order be restored, that due process govern the dispensing of justice amid the most "wild, intense and unrestrained series of accusations I can remember in modern Australian politics".

Biden's 1st month was about erasing the mark of 'former guy' WASHINGTON (AP) — When Joe Biden walked into the Oval Office for the first time as president a month ago, his pens were ready.

Biden's 1st month was about erasing the mark of 'former guy'

Already. Lining a fine wooden box, they bore the presidential seal and an imprint of his signature, a micro-mission accomplished in advance of his swearing-in. Four years ago, pens were just one more little drama in Donald Trump’s White House. The gold-plated signature pens he favored had to be placed on rush order in his opening days. Military coup in Myanmar, Aung San Suu Kyi detained. One county, worlds apart: Bridging the political divide. FREDERICK, Md.

One county, worlds apart: Bridging the political divide

(AP) — She fired up her laptop to scour the internet for bits from right-wing websites and conspiratorial YouTube channels. The inauguration of Joe Biden was just days away, and Natalie Abbas was feverishly searching for 11th-hour interventions that could prevent the swearing-in of a president she’ll likely never accept. She sent a video to her friend and political sparring partner, Jim Carpenter. Five miles across town, the local newspaper was on Carpenter’s sofa and The Washington Post on his doorstep. When he clicked on Abbas’ link, his jaw dropped and his white eyebrows darted up and down. “This is nonsense,” he said, shaking his head. Abbas and Carpenter are local ambassadors for a program designed to bridge the nation’s extraordinary political divide, and the gulf between them is about as wide as one gets.

What next for Trump - and Trumpism? Pakistan says ‘onus on India’ to restart dialogue. Trump impeachment: Senate trial poised to start next week. Pink seesaws at US-Mexico wall win design award. With the US Capitol attacks, domestic terrorism in America has exploded into the mainstream. What happened at the US Capitol earlier this month might be new for many people, a shock.

With the US Capitol attacks, domestic terrorism in America has exploded into the mainstream

What is happening with US President Donald Trump's border wall, and what does president-elect Joe Biden intend to do? A centrepiece of US President Donald Trump's hardline immigration policy was the construction of a "big, beautiful wall" on the US-Mexico border — and the promise that Mexico would pay for it.

What is happening with US President Donald Trump's border wall, and what does president-elect Joe Biden intend to do?

Mr Trump will this week leave office with the wall less than half complete according to his initial specifications, as well as no apparent funding contribution from Mexico. So how much of the wall has been built and what will be its fate be under Joe Biden's administration? How much has been built? Mr Trump repeatedly promised in 2015 and 2016 the wall would be 1,000 miles (1,609 kilometres) long. He argued the wall would combine with mountain terrain and rivers to create an effective barrier across the 1,954 mile (3,145km) US-Mexico border.

During his 2020 State of the Union address, Mr Trump said "substantially more than 500 miles" of the wall would be complete by early 2021. "We did it, just like I said we would, and we had it out years and years before they thought it was possible," Trump said. Corporate donors flee Republican Party following Capitol Hill riot, and it's only the beginning. Disney has had enough. So has Coca-Cola, Walmart, Hallmark, Amazon, Airbnb and Mastercard. After last week's violent insurrection on Capitol Hill in Washington DC, which left five people dead, dozens of the world's biggest corporations are pulling their political donations from America's Republicans. The companies — many consistent Republican donors in the past — are targeting the 147 Republicans who still challenged the results of America's presidential election after the Capitol building was stormed by Donald Trump's supporters on January 6.

Some companies say those Republicans will receive no donations for the rest of their political lives. For Australia, a secret document raises crucial questions about US foreign policy. When Donald Trump shocked the Washington establishment — and much of the world — when he was elected President of the United States four years ago, the message from diplomats and foreign policy analysts both in Australia and the US was one of quiet reassurance. No matter how flaky the president might look (and, remember, this was in the days before anyone realised that he wasn't just likely to be flaky but sometimes dangerous), the institutions of government and diplomacy would grind on to plot a steady path through a dangerous world.

As what seemed an unending turnover of senior staff in the White House, and open warfare with agency heads continued unabated, it was hard to believe that was possible, let alone happening. Now, the turmoil — at least in the White House itself — is set to stop with the inauguration of Joe Biden as the 46th President on Thursday morning Australian time. An extremely unusual declassification. Donald Trump's impeachment and the Capitol riots have left the US on a knife's edge. Considered a shining light and guardian of democracy, the "People's House" sits proudly on the hill, watching over America's capital city. However, right now it looks anything but. Throngs of armed, camouflage-clad National Guard soldiers patrol its new steel-fenced perimeter. They roam every square inch of its corridors, sleeping on the spotless marble floors laid by the founders and curled up at the foot of statues built over generations.

A total of 20,000 troops, more than stationed in Iraq and Afghanistan combined, now crawl the streets, protecting the buildings that house America's three pillars of democracy. Police sirens and forklifts unloading more fencing are an almost constant background noise; flashing lights fill the lens every way you turn. Washington now resembles a militarised city, akin to the green zone of Baghdad, not the democratic heart of the world's most powerful Western nation. Enduring 2nd impeachment, Trump stands largely silent, alone. WASHINGTON (AP) — His place in the history books rewritten, President Donald Trump endured his second impeachment largely alone and silent.

For more than four years, Trump has dominated the national discourse like no one before him. Yet when his legacy was set in stone on Wednesday, he was stunningly left on the sidelines. Trump now stands with no equal, the only president to be charged twice with a high crime or misdemeanor, a new coda for a term defined by a deepening of the nation’s divides, his failures during the worst pandemic in a century and his refusal to accept defeat at the ballot box. Donald Trump's second impeachment is a solemn moment that could signal America's renewal or ruin.

CNN called this a "solemn" moment. The impeachment — again — of Donald Trump is about the soul of America. It is more accurate to say it is a reflection of the damaged soul of America. While news networks and political pundits cast this historic moment as renewing and upholding democracy, the truth is American democracy looks like a sham — a rigged game played by Washington elites.

America is a tribalised society, fractured along class, race and culture. One thing they do agree on is that politics is the problem. 'Your move, Mr President': North Korea sets the stage for Biden. Boris Johnson vows to pit UK against EU in race for success. Britain is heading into a new chapter in its relationship with the rest of Europe with Boris Johnson vowing to pit the country against the EU in a race for economic success.

After nine months of tortuous talks, a Brexit deal was secured at 1.44pm GMT on Christmas Eve, avoiding a no-deal exit from the transition period with just a week to go. EU ambassadors will meet on Christmas day for a briefing from their chief negotiator, Michel Barnier, and are expected to take two or three days to analyse the agreement and decide on its provisional implementation. In the UK, Eurosceptic backbenchers are awaiting the verdict of a “star chamber” of experts convened by the European Research Group to go through the agreement line by line. 'Christmas gift' or 'bad timing'? Brexit deal greeted with joy and foreboding around world. Britain should be congratulated for coming to a Brexit deal with the EU, but be wary of the very different world they are walking into, international analysts have said.

Outside Europe, politicians, experts, and media took a short break from Christmas and the pandemic to welcome the end of Britain’s long and torturous Brexit process, but there was little in the way of celebration.

US Election 2020

Protest! Pizzagate: Anatomy of a Fake News Scandal. This story was reported in partnership with The Investigative Fund and Reveal from the Center for Investigative Reporting. Additional reporting: Aaron Sankin, Laura Starecheski, Michael Corey, Jaime Longoria and Jasper Craven.

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