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Hong Kong media tycoon Jimmy Lai, 7 others jailed over Tiananmen memorial – The Globe and Mail

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Media tycoon Jimmy Lai arrives at the West Kowloon Courts before entering a courtroom to face charges related to illegal assembly during Tiananmen vigil, in Hong Kong, China September 15, 2020.TYRONE SIU/Reuters

Media tycoon Jimmy Lai and seven other Hong Kong pro-democracy activists were sentenced to up to 14 months in prison over a banned vigil last year for victims of China’s 1989 Tiananmen Square massacre.

A candlelit ceremony had been held every June 4 until 2020, when police banned the event on coronavirus grounds, despite Hong Kong at the time having negligible cases. Large crowds turned up regardless, ignoring police barriers around Victoria Park to hold a peaceful commemoration that did not result in any mass infection.

Handing down her sentence Monday, Judge Amanda Woodcock said the defendants “ignored and belittled a genuine public health crisis” and “wrongly and arrogantly believed” in commemorating June 4 rather than protecting the health of the community.

Mr. Lai, 74, barrister Chow Hang Tung, 36, and activist Gwyneth Ho, 31, received sentences of 13, 12 and 6 months, respectively. They had all pleaded not guilty.

Five others who had pleaded guilty, including Lee Cheuk-yan, leader of the now-disbanded vigil organizer Hong Kong Alliance, were sentenced to between just over 4 months and 14 months.

“If there was a provocateur, it is the regime that fired at its own people,” an emotional Lee, told the court last month. “If I must go to jail to affirm my will, then so be it.”

Many of the defendants are facing other charges or already serving sentences connected to a mass crackdown on Hong Kong’s opposition movement since mid-2020, when Beijing imposed a national security law on the city, banning secession, subversion and collusion with foreign forces.

The law came into force weeks after the June 4 memorial. This year, the ceremony was again banned on pandemic grounds, but crowds did not defy the order, fearing arrest. An annual pro-democracy march on July 1 also did not go ahead after police refused permission, detaining Ms. Chow and others hours before it would have started.

Other areas of society have also been affected: Mr. Lai’s pro-democracy tabloid Apple Daily has been forced to close down, with he and numerous other senior executives charged under the security law. Civil society groups have disbanded, and new election rules mean that a poll next week will include no candidates from traditional opposition parties, with most former lawmakers in prison or exile.

In a mitigation letter from prison, Mr. Lai said that if it is a crime to “commemorate those who died because of injustice … then inflict on me that crime and let me suffer the punishment of this crime, so I may share the burden and glory of those young men and women who shed their blood on June 4th.”

Since his arrest last year and a growing number of court cases, Mr. Lai has become an international symbol of Hong Kong’s shrinking press freedoms.

This month, he and his newsroom were awarded the Golden Pen of Freedom by the World Association of News Publishers. In her speech accepting the Nobel Peace Prize last week, Philippines journalist Maria Ressa included Mr. Lai in a list of media figures “forced to sacrifice so much to hold the line.”

Supporters also launched a recent campaign in solidarity with Mr. Lai, designed to bring attention to the fact the septuagenarian could spend the rest of his life in prison once his court cases are finished.

“I want to make certain that as many people as possible around the world stand up for Jimmy Lai, who is a hero of everybody who believes in freedom, liberty, and the rule of law,” Chris Patten, the last British colonial governor of Hong Kong, said in a video message posted to the “Letter For Lai” website.

Canadian Conservative MP Garnett Genuis also posted a video, saying he stood with Mr. Lai “and the people of Hong Kong in their fight for freedom.”

It is unclear what success such international pressure can hope to achieve. Multiple senior Hong Kong officials, along with their Chinese counterparts, have been sanctioned for their role in the recent crackdown. International bodies and foreign governments have repeatedly criticized prosecutions under the security law. Beijing has responded by criticizing other countries for interfering in China’s internal affairs, while the Hong Kong government dismisses claims residents’ freedoms have been negatively affected.

With almost every prominent figure in prison or exile, optimism or hope for the future is often in short supply within the opposition movement. Ms. Chow, who was a vice-chair of the Hong Kong Alliance before it disbanded, presented a stark contrast in court.

“If those in power had wished to kill the movement with prosecution and imprisonment, they shall be sorely disappointed,” she said in a statement. “Indeed what they have done is breathe new life into the movement, rallying a new generation to this long struggle for truth, justice and democracy.”

With reporting from Reuters and Janice Dickson.

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Social media boosts U.S. red meat profile in Hong Kong – National Hog Farmer

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With the surge in meat buying at retail and online in Hong Kong, USMEF partnered with an imported meat wholesaler and key opinion leader (KOL) to raise the visibility of U.S. red meat, promote sales of a wider range of cuts with end-users and provide promotional support to foodservice partners.

“The pandemic accelerated demand for high-quality protein and online content about food, meat handling and preparation,” says Joel Haggard, USMEF senior vice president for the Asia Pacific. Instead of working with general foodie KOLs, Beef Checkoff Program funding from Texas Beef Council and support from USDA’s Market Access Program and Agricultural Trade Promotion Program were utilized to partner with a local meat wholesaler with a strong social media following among the Hong Kong trade. Costs have been lower with this trade-focused approach, says Haggard, “and arguably have resulted in a greater long-term return due to adoption of many of our KOL’s recommendations by other institutional meat users.”

Known as Meat Dee to his Facebook and YouTube followers, Dee Liu is the son of a former wet market operator who has helped expand the family business into imported meat wholesaling. USMEF has worked with Meat Dee on several educational videos focused on simple at-home preparation of alternative cuts such as the hanging tender. (See video featuring a local Italian chef joining Meat Dee to cook hanging tenders.)

“In providing this educational content to the trade through Meat Dee, sales of a wider range of U.S. red meat cuts have been realized in both foodservice and retail channels,” says Haggard.

As the tentative restaurant recovery began in early 2021, USMEF also partnered with Meat Dee on a series of short YouTube videos featuring visits to Hong Kong restaurants where U.S. red meats were featured as center-of-the-plate items. The culinary styles were diverse, ranging from pet-friendly, American-themed restaurants to iconic traditional local steakhouses, hot pot and Korean barbecue establishments.

Aimed at consumers, the emphasis of the 2021 videos was on locally owned and operated restaurants rather than international chains. Each video is approximately 10 minutes in duration and shooting was done ‘live’ without rehearsals. Two of the videos, for instance, focused on cooking recommendations for U.S. Berkshire pork.

“The contents are not restaurant reviews per se, but stories about the main U.S. red meat dishes that make each restaurant notable or successful,” says Haggard.

A total of 16 videos were produced in 2021, attracting up to 30,000 views. The restaurant operators covered in the series have been especially appreciative of the promotional effort given the challenges they faced in 2020 and 2021, Haggard adds.

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Screen Shots: Hockey Media Brouhaha and Anaheim's Struggles – The Hockey News

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John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports

It’s late in the workweek, and that means it’s time for a Screen Shots column, wherein we take a brief look at a few newsworthy topics. Let’s get right to it.

– The hockey world was abuzz earlier this week after veteran Edmonton journalist Jim Matheson and Oilers superstar Leon Draisaitl got into a heated back-and-forth during a media availability. While it’s tempting/easy to take the “both sides are equally to blame” angle, the truth is that NHL players don’t need journalists to do their jobs well, and all things considered, reporters do need some sort of input to do their jobs well.

Don’t get me wrong – I don’t think journalists should depend on players to effectively cover the game. As I’ve said to young writers all the time, you should be at the rink prepared to write a story that doesn’t require a cliche to be complete. Media need not be beholden to players. Journalistic independence applies here, and just as we expect players not to roll their eyes at lame-o questions, we also should expect journalists not to sneer at lame-o answers.

As others have noted, the long wait between games for the Oilers was a mitigating factor in the tension between Draisaitl and Matheson. That said, under longtime media-player rules, when cameras didn’t zero in on every breath and conversation between NHLers and reporters, some hostile situations never saw the light of day. It was kept between the two arguing parties, and nobody else was ever the wiser.

But just because you didn’t see run-ins happen, that doesn’t mean they didn’t take place. I’m reminded of that when I think of one of my first years covering the Toronto Maple Leafs on a game-in, game-out basis. At the start of the season, star goalie Ed Belfour was in the midst of dealing with Leafs media at his dressing room stall for one of his first interviews in a Toronto uniform; but unbeknownst to Belfour, a print reporter and a TV journalist wound up physically jostling with one another as they tried to get in close to him. Finally – while Belfour was still answering questions – the muscling-in on each other boiled over, with the print reporter asking the TV journalist whether he wanted to “go”.

As this was happening, Belfour’s mouth fell open. When the cameras and microphones clicked off, Befour asked, incredulously, “is it always like this here?” We all know media scrums are where decorum goes to die, and Belfour had played in big markets before Toronto, but the press is almost always a different animal when it comes to Canadian franchises. Hopefully, after the COVID-19 pandemic ends, we can all go back to covering players and teams the way we’ve always covered them, and diffuse arguments like this one before they mushroom into something bigger and nastier. If not, there will probably be more of these types of frigid relations.

– After surprising many people with a strong start to the season, the Anaheim Ducks have regressed to the mean, winning just two times in their past 11 games (2-7-2) and falling to third place in the current Pacific Division standings. However, the discrepancy in games-played between the Ducks and the fifth-place Calgary Flames – a discrepancy that has Calgary holding a whopping seven games in hand on Anaheim, while trailing the Ducks by only five standings points – means that Anaheim has to start turning things around, lest they switch spots with the Flames and wind up missing out on the playoffs.

Part of their recent slump is connected to the COVID-19 virus taking a bite out of starting goalie John Gibson, but in their current four-game losing skid, they’ve been outscored 16–4. It isn’t all about defense; this has to do with the highs and lows that come with having a young core of developing talent. Anaheim has seen some of the highs this year with the evolution of young forwards Trevor Zegras and Troy Terry; now they are understanding how difficult it is to maintain a strong pace as a group. I still am not sure about them making the playoffs this year, and this recent slump as a unit gives me evidence for concern.

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Twitter debuts hexagon-shaped NFT profile pictures

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Twitter Inc on Thursday announced the launch of a tool through which users can showcase non-fungible tokens (NFTs)as their profile pictures, tapping into a digital collectibles craze that has exploded over the past year.

The feature, available on iOS to users of the company’s Twitter Blue subscription service, connects their Twitter accounts to crypto wallets where the users store NFT holdings.

Twitter displays the NFT profile pictures as hexagons, differentiating them from the standard circles available to other users. Tapping on the pictures prompts details about the art and its ownership to appear.

Like other tech companies, Twitter is rushing to cash in on crypto trends like NFTs, a type of speculative asset authenticating digital items such as images, videos and land in virtual worlds.

The social media platform last year added functionality for users to send and receive Bitcoin.

Sales of NFTs reached some $25 billion in 2021, according to data from market tracker DappRadar, although there were signs of growth slowing toward the end of the year.

Proponents of “Web3” technologies like NFTs say they decentralize ownership online, creating a path for users to earn money from popular creations, rather than having those benefits accrue primarily to a handful of tech platforms.

Critics dismiss the decentralization claims, noting that many of the services powering adoption of those technologies – like the six crypto wallets supported by Twitter’s NFT product – are backed by a small group of venture capitalists.

In a widely circulated tweet after the launch, security researcher Jane Manchun Wong highlighted one of those links, showing how an outage at venture-backed NFT marketplace OpenSea temporarily blocked NFTs from loading on Twitter.

OpenSea did not immediately respond to a request from Reuters for comment.

 

(Reporting by Katie Paul; Editing by Simon Cameron-Moore)

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