Vietnamese court finds Australian guilty of terrorism

A Vietnamese court on Monday sentenced a 70-year-old Australian to 12 years in jail on terrorism charges, state media reported. The Tuoi Tre newspaper said Chau Van Kham, a Sydney resident of Vietnamese origin, was found guilty of “terrorism to oppose the people’s administration” in a half-day trial at Ho Chi Minh City People’s Court. It said two Vietnamese men, Nguyen Van Vien and Tran Van Quyen, were also sentenced to 11 and 10 years respectively on the same charge.

Mexico massacre unites Mormon sects, even their exiles

The 35-year-old Seattle homemaker had spent much of her life trying to keep away from her parents’ self-described fundamentalist branch of the Mormon faith and Colonia LeBaron – her polygamist father’s Mexico community where some of the massacre victims were from. “The massacre has simply allowed me to support and love family,” said Bostwick, a convert to Christianity, whose mother was 15 when she gave birth to her, and who was later adopted by her U.S. grandparents. The Nov. 4 killings have traumatized northern Mexico’s breakaway Mormon communities.

Hong Kong police shoot protester as pro-democracy unrest spirals into rare working-hours violence

A protester was shot and a man set on fire on Monday as protests in Hong Kong spilled into rare daytime hours, forcing public transport, offices and schools to shut down. A 21-year-old activist was in critical condition after being shot and wounded at around 7.20am as traffic police trying to stop protesters from blocking a road fired three live shots with no prior warning. Police later said all were meant to be warning shots, as the officers felt their lives were under threat. Video circulating online showed an officer holding a protester and pointing his gun at another, firing at close range. Another man was admitted to hospital for burns, after he was set on fire. Videos online show protesters arguing with a man in a green t-shirt, as he criticises Hong Kong’s pro-democracy activists. A masked person in black then throws liquid over the man, and sets him on fire. The violence is pushing Hong Kong to the “brink of no return,” said Hong Kong chief executive Carrie Lam. She condemned the protesters’ “wishful thinking” that escalating violence would force the government to meet their demands.  Police fired tear gas in the Central business district Credit:  REUTERS/Thomas Peter “I’m making this statement clear and loud here: That will not happen,” Ms Lam said. “Violence is not going to give us any solution.”  Chaos erupted as news of the use of live rounds spread, and as video circulated online of a police officer driving his motorcycle into protesters, further inflaming tensions. The police said the officer was suspended and under investigation. Police fired tear gas in several neighbourhoods, as clashes broke out throughout the day, including in the central business district. Subway stations were closed and bus routes halted as activists blocked roads and vandalised stations. Protesters also threw petrol bombs inside a rail car holding passengers, a subway spokesperson told local media.    Protests are now a near-daily occurrence, sometimes flaring up with little or no notice, engulfing city in the biggest political challenge ever against Xi Jinping, the leader of the Chinese Communist Party.  Skirmishes are increasingly violent, with protesters vandalising buildings and throwing petrol bombs and bricks at police, government offices, as well as people or businesses thought to be pro-Beijing or sympathetic to police.  Police have responded with greater force, using tear gas, water cannons, rubber bullets and sponge grenades, making more than 3,000 arrests since protests began early June. The first use of live rounds came in August, when two protesters, aged 14 and 18, were shot, both of whom survived. Some office workers took shelter from the tear gas inside a mall Credit: Nicole Tung/Bloomberg Activists increasingly resent the police for using what they call disproportionate force in handling the protests.  The live rounds on Monday “are clear evidence of reckless use of force,” said Man-kei Tam, director of Amnesty International Hong Kong. “These are not policing measures – these are officers out of control with a mindset of retaliation.” “These behaviours call their training in question and the commands they have been given – officers should be deployed to de-escalate difficult crowd control situations, not make them worse,” said Mr Tam. Underpinning the protests are widespread fears that Hong Kong’s unique freedoms are eroding under Beijing rule. Some protesters have also called for independence, something Chinese Communist Party leaders will never tolerate.  Beijing has decried the protests as the work of Western governments trying to foment unrest to destabilise China, without giving any evidence.

Tapper Rips Into Lindsey Graham: Impeachment Stance Is ‘Confusing’

CNN anchor Jake Tapper called out Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) on Sunday over the Republican senator’s “confusing” position on the Ukraine scandal as the impeachment inquiry has progressed, suggesting history won’t be kind to Graham’s “political evolution.”Noting at the end of Sunday’s broadcast of State of the Union that Graham had been invited to talk about “his views of the mounting evidence that President Trump’s team was pushing Ukraine to publicly announce an investigation into the Bidens,” Tapper said that the show was told that Graham was “unavailable.” (Graham, however, did appear on Fox News for a Sunday morning interview.)“Graham’s public statements on the matter have been confusing,” the CNN host said. “On September 25th, after the White House released that rough call transcript between President Trump and Ukrainian president Zelinsky, Graham called the call a, quote, nothing (non-quid pro quo) burger.”Lindsey Graham Claims Trump Donor Sondland Is in Cahoots With ‘Democratic Operatives’Tapper went on to highlight other instances of Graham moving the goalposts whenever additional evidence came forth, specifically pointing out that just last month Graham told Axios that “if you could show me that Trump actually was engaging in a quid pro quo outside the phone call, that would be very disturbing.”“We now have reams of evidence,” the CNN anchor declared. “Testimony from multiple Trump administration diplomats and national security officials—current and former—suggesting that outside that phone call, Ambassador Gordon Sondland, Rudy Giuliani, acting White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney all were pushing Ukraine to investigate the Bidens if they wanted that aid and that White House meeting.”The CNN host then turned to Graham’s most recent defense of the president, playing a clip of the Senate Judiciary Committee chair claiming that the Trump administration was “incapable of forming a quid pro quo” because Trump’s policy towards Ukraine was “incoherent.”“Coherence is not particularly evident in Chairman Graham’s position on this impeachment inquiry,” Tapper snarked before contrasting Graham’s shifting stance on reading the transcripts of impeachment witnesses’ depositions.Tapper went on to conclude his essay by comparing Graham with former Rep. Earl Landgrebe (R-IN), who famously said during the Watergate scandal: “Don’t confuse me with the facts!”“Is Senator Lindsey Graham trying to follow in the footsteps of John McCain?” Tapper asked after showing Graham tearfully memorializing his longtime friend.  “Or is he trying to follow in the footsteps of Earl Landgrebe?”Read more at The Daily Beast.Get our top stories in your inbox every day. Sign up now!Daily Beast Membership: Beast Inside goes deeper on the stories that matter to you. Learn more.

Turkey starts returning IS fighters, deports US national

Turkey on Monday deported citizens of the United States and Denmark who fought for the Islamic State and made plans to expel other foreign nationals as the government began a new push to send back captured foreign fighters to their home countries, a Turkish official said. The move comes just over a week after the Turkish interior minister said Turkey was not a “hotel” for IS fighters and criticized Western nations for their reluctance to take back citizens who had joined the ranks of the extremist militant group as it sought to establish a “caliphate” in Iraq and Syria.

UPDATE 1-Iran launches nuclear enrichment at underground Fordow plant, IAEA confirms

Iran has begun enriching uranium at its underground Fordow site in the latest breach of its deal with major powers, the U.N. nuclear watchdog confirmed on Monday, adding that Tehran’s enriched uranium stock has continued to grow. Iran is contravening the deal’s limits on its nuclear activities step by step in response to Washington’s withdrawal from the accord last year and its renewed sanctions on Tehran. Tehran says it can quickly undo those breaches if Washington lifts its sanctions.

Indian holy site prays for closure after court battle

Residents of Ayodhya scrambled for emergency food when India’s Supreme Court warned it would soon hand down a final verdict on a holy site that provoked some of the country’s worst sectarian violence. Saturday’s ruling gave Hindus the right to build a temple in the city, on land where a five-century-old mosque had stood until religious zealots tore it down in 1992, sparking riots that killed 2,000 people — mostly Muslims. “When the news broke on Friday night that the Supreme Court would give its verdict, no-one knew what will happen.