Top story: Hong Kong chief condemns ‘shocking’ violence
Good morning briefers. This is Martin Farrer bringing you all top stories in one neat package this Tuesday morning.
Chinese state media has called for “zero tolerance” of protesters in Hong Kong who stormed the city’s Legislative Council building on Monday amid a worsening standoff between protesters and authorities. An uneasy calm has descended the city this morning as a cleanup operation began in the wake of the violent clashes which were led by activists angry at the government’s attempts to introduce a controversial extradition bill with China. Workers swept up broken glass and cleared away debris left by demonstrators who broke away from a larger march held to mark the anniversary of the Chinese handover 22 years ago. Hong Kong chief executive Carrie Lam condemned the “extremely violent” storming of the legislature, which she described as “heartbreaking and shocking”.
But Hong Kongers will now wait for a reaction from Beijing where the Global Times newspaper said that “a zero-tolerance policy is the only remedy for such destructive behaviour witnessed”. State television said the protests were an “undisguised challenge” to the one country, two systems formula under which the city is ruled. Our foreign affairs commentator Simon Tisdall says the unrest is a personal challenge to Chinese leader Xi Jinping.
Antarctic meltdown – The amount of sea ice floating off Antarctica has plunged has suffered a “precipitous” fall since 2014, according to satellite data. Antarctic sea ice had increased slowly until reaching a recorded maximum in 2014. But since then the extent of sea ice has nosedived and reached a record low in 2017, and means Antarctica lost as much sea ice in four years as the Arctic lost in 34 years. The data has puzzled scientists who say only time will tell whether the ice recovers or continues to decline. However, they warned that it shows ice could disappear much more rapidly than previously thought. Prof Andrew Shepherd of Leeds University said: “The rapid decline has caught us by surprise … Now sea ice is retreating in both hemispheres and that presents a challenge because it could mean further warming.”
Staying on ice, an arctic fox has amazed scientists by travelling 3,500km from Norway to Canada in 76 days. The fox, which was fitted with a tagging device by researchers, crossed sea ice from Svalbard to Greenland and then into Canada.
Abuse alarm – The scale of abuse suffered by children and vulnerable adults has been highlighted after the Metropolitan police revealed its officers were flagging an average of 700 potential abuse cases every day. Figures obtained by the Guardian under FOI show referrals relate to a range of alleged and suspected abuses, including sexual exploitation, forced marriage and bullying. Nearly 1.3m records were created in the capital over the past five years of officers informing social services about concerns for children and vulnerable adults. The NSPCC said it was “heartbreaking to think that every single day, police in the capital are coming across hundreds of vulnerable children and having to flag concerns for their safety.
Council cuts – Municipal leaders have warned that nearly one in five councils in England may be forced to impose drastic spending controls to stave off bankruptcy as the government’s austerity budgets continue to eat into funding. The Local Government Association said councils did not think they could deliver the already tough savings targets they had set themselves for this financial year, and would have to go back for extra cuts to meet their legal requirement to balance their budgets. The outlook was so bleak that a further one in three said they would be unable to provide an adequate service in core areas such as adult social care, child protection and homelessness.
Fair game – The sharp rise in pheasant and partridge shooting in Britain has seen a parallel increase in the number of avian predators such as buzzards, ravens and crows which are feeding on the non-native gamebirds. Some 43 million pheasants are introduced into the countryside every year to support the growing popularity of game shooting. Although gamekeepers trap and kill predators, researchers have recorded “multiple positive” links for predators as their numbers have risen in line with game populations. For example, the number of buzzards in Britain has increased by nearly 500% in the four decades to 2016. However, the predators are bad news for some birds with crows blamed for the near-extinction of breeding curlews in southern England.
A Twitter Stormzy – Grime star Stormzy celebrated his triumphant headlining show at Glastonbury by tweeting that he was the first black British artist to headline the festival. But he has apologised after Skin, lead singer from the band Skunk Anansie, pointed out that she had pipped him to it by taking top spot at Worthy Farm 20 years ago. The man of the moment took it well, tweeting back: “No disrespect intended I’m very sorry my apologies! Thank you for paving the way – love (and) respect.”
Today in Focus podcast: Life in the world’s fastest warming place
In the world’s northernmost town, temperatures have risen by 4C since 1971, devastating homes, wildlife and even the cemetery. India Rakusen and Jon Watts travel to Svalbard to find out how the island is coping with the effects of global heating.
Lunchtime read: Why boys are roaring on the Lionesses
Football fever has gripped England for the second summer in a row. But the excitement being generated by the Lionesses’ World Cup semi-final against the USA tonight suggests that we might at last have reached a tipping point in terms of acceptance of women playing our favourite sport. Sam Haddad explains her joy at seeing her young sons support the England women’s team in the same wholehearted way as they followed the men in Russia last year, helped by growing media exposure and an explosion in girls playing at school. As they reenact classic goals from the women’s tournament, the only difference the boys note about the women’s game is that the players don’t spend so much time on the ground faking injury.
Phil Neville wants the Lionesses to stop being a semi-final team on the brink of their semi final against USA and revealed some home truths were delivered after their defeat to Sweden last year. On the cricket field, the last time England women won the Ashes was in 2014. A lot has changed since then, but one thing has remained the same – beating Australia is a formidable challenge. At 39, Venus Williams has been spending more and more time looking in the rear-view mirror and in the 15-year-old American Cori Gauff she found an opponent who played like her, only slightly better. Alexander Zverev and Stefanos Tsitsipas, the supposed next generation of men’s tennis, were also shock casualties in the first round at Wimbledon.
The race to the bottom by the world’s central bankers is continuing with the Reserve Bank of Australia cutting its main interest rate to a fresh record low of 1%. It is the second cut in a row following another 0.25% reduction last month against a backdrop of slowing growth, falling house prices and stagnant wages. The move helped Australian shares mirror Wall Street and push ever closer to 2007’s record high. The FTSE100 is tipped to open up by 0.3%. The pound is at $1.264 and €1.119.
Violent scenes in Hong Kong feature on the front pages of many papers. The FT reports: “Parliament break-in plunges Hong Kong deeper into turmoil”, the Times has “Hong Kong protesters break into parliament” and the i splash is “China warns UK to stay out of Hong Kong”.
The horrific story of the man who died stowing away on a flight is reported on the Mail: “Stowaway falls from jet – into garden of sunbather”. The Sun has “Falling jet stowaway lands 3ft from sunbather”.
The Guardian reports: “Met flags up 700 welfare and abuse cases a day”, the Mirror has “Meghan: I refuse to let my family ruin Archie’s life”. The Express focuses on the Tory leadership contest with “PM rivals slug it out over no-deal Brexit”, as does the Telegraph: “Johnson plans to cut Cabinet by half.”
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