Wednesday, June 23

Update on the latest news, sports, business and entertainment at 6:20 a.m. EDT


Online funeral set for Seoul mayor over virus concerns

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — The official funeral for Seoul Mayor Park Won-soon will be held online this week over coronavirus concerns. The funeral committee for Park Won-soon said Sunday the online funeral will be held inside Seoul City Hall on Monday morning. It said the online funeral is designed to support a government-led anti-virus campaign and make the event “humble.” The announcement comes amid a heated social debate over how big a funeral should be arranged for Park, who was found dead on Friday while being reportedly embroiled in sexual harassment allegations.


Okinawa governor wants tougher action as 61 Marines infected

TOKYO (AP) — The governor of Japan’s Okinawa is demanding a top U.S. military commander take tougher prevention measures and more transparency hours after officials were told that more than 60 Marines at two bases have been infected with the coronavirus over the past few days. Okinawan officials reported a total of 61 cases _ 38 at Marine Corps Air Station Futenma and 23 at Camp Hansen _ since July 7. They say U.S. military officials told them the two bases have since been put in lockdown. The disclosure of the exact figures came only after Okinawa’s repeated requests to the U.S. military. Gov. Denny Tamaki held phone talks with Lt. Gen. H. Stacy Clardy, commander of III Marine Expeditionary Force, to demand the U.S take stronger action.


Over 200,000 vote in Hong Kong’s pro-democracy primaries

HONG KONG (AP) — Hundreds of thousands of Hong Kongers have voted in an unofficial two-day primary election held by the city’s pro-democracy camp as it gears up to field candidates for an upcoming legislative poll. The exercise is being held two weeks after Beijing imposed a sweeping national security law on the semi-autonomous territory in a move widely seen as chipping away at the “one country, two systems” framework under which Britain handed Hong Kong over to China in 1997. Throngs of people lined up at polling booths in the summer heat to cast their vote despite a warning by Hong Kong’s constitutional affairs minister that the primaries could be in breach of the new national security law.


Australia to offer residence option to 10,000 Hong Kongers

SYDNEY (AP) — The Australian government says it will offer around 10,000 Hong Kong passport holders currently living in Australia a chance to apply for permanent residence once their current visas expire. Prime Minister Scott Morrison believes China’s imposition of a new tough national security law on the semi-autonomous territory means pro-democracy supporters may face political persecution. Morrison said last week Australia suspended its extradition treaty with Hong Kong and extended visas for Hong Kong residents from two to five years. Critics view China’s sweeping security law as a further deterioration of freedoms promised to the former British colony, in response to last year’s protests calling for greater democracy. China said it reserved the right to take further action against Canberra.


As beach towns open, businesses are short foreign workers

BOSTON (AP) — Businesses in beach communities and mountain getaways up and down the East Coast are fretting about a shortage of workers as the summer season picks up steam. The concern comes after the Trump administration announced last month that it was extending a ban on green cards and adding many temporary visas to the freeze, including J-1 cultural exchange visas and H-2B visas. Workers with these visas are employed in forestry to fisheries to hospitality businesses. Businesses said they would like to hire Americans but that labor pools in their communities are too small. Other challenges are high housing prices.


The Latest: Vatican highlights plight of maritime workers

The Vatican is highlighting the plight of maritime workers during the pandemic, saying bans on shore leave are severely stressing crews stuck aboard ship, some to the point of suicide. Cardinal Peter A. Turkson, who heads a Vatican office dealing with issues of human development, said in a message Sunday that maritime workers “really deserve our esteem and gratitude” for ensuring movement of goods for a “healthy global economy” while much of the world is in lockdown to combat spread of COVID-19 infection. He said that tens of thousands of seafarers who were due to fly home for leave between long stints at sea were prevented from doing so due to lockdown rules.


UN approves aid to Syria’s rebel area through 1 crossing

UNITED NATIONS (AP) — Russia has scored a victory for its ally Syria by forcing the U.N. Security Council to limit humanitarian aid deliveries to the country’s mainly rebel-held northwest to just one crossing point from Turkey. Western nations say the change from Saturday’s vote will cut a lifeline for 1.3 million people. Russia argued that aid should be delivered from within Syria across conflict lines and just one crossing point is needed. The U.N. and humanitarian groups argued unsuccessfully — along with the vast majority of the council — that two crossing points were essential to get aid to the 2.8 million needy people in the northwest, especially with the region’s recent first case of COVID-19.


Libyan forces set conditions for lifting oil blockade

CAIRO (AP) — Forces loyal to a Libyan commander say they will only allow the reopening of oil fields and terminals once a mechanism has been set up to fairly distribute revenue across the fiercely divided country. Tribes in eastern Libya loyal to Khalifa Hifter closed export terminals and choked off major pipelines at the start of the year. The move was aimed at pressuring their rivals in the U.N.-supported government in the capital, Tripoli. A spokesman for Hifter’s forces late Saturday called for oil revenues to flow into a bank account in a foreign country with a “clear mechanism” to distribute funds fairly among Libya’s regions.


Serbia, Kosovo leaders in new talks face same old issues

BRUSSELS (AP) — The leaders of Serbia and Kosovo are holding video talks as the European Union pushes for a face-to-face meeting between them. EU-backed talks aimed at normalizing ties have been blocked since November 2018. Both sides remain at loggerheads over the statehood of Kosovo, which unilaterally declared independence in 2008. Serbia refuses to recognize the move. In a previous round of video talks on Friday, Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic said the process would be “meaningless” if it focuses on mutual recognition. Kosovo Prime Minister Avdullah Hoti said it’s “the only way to normalize relations.” EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell, who is leading the talks, urged them to show ”commitment and engagement, in the spirit of compromise and pragmatism.”


Quake shakes northeast Chinese city; no injuries reported

BEIJING (AP) — The Chinese government reports a 5.1 magnitude earthquake has shaken the northeastern city of Tangshan. No deaths or injuries were reported. A state news agency says railway service to Tangshan was temporarily suspended while tracks were inspected for possible damage. An earthquake that struck Tangshan in 1976 killed at least 242,000 people in one of the deadliest natural disasters in history.

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