Protests Escalate As Hong Kong Marks Handover To China

Hong Kong: 

Anti-government protesters tried to ram their way into Hong Kong’s parliament Monday, battling police armed with pepper spray, as the territory marked the anniversary of its handover to China.

The angry scenes ramped up tensions in the international financial hub, which has been shaken by historic demonstrations in the past three weeks — driven by demands for the withdrawal of a bill that would allow extraditions to the Chinese mainland.

Democracy activists are planning another huge march through the city on Monday afternoon, but small groups of mainly young, masked protesters seized three key thoroughfares in the morning, sparking renewed clashes with police after two weeks of relative calm.

They smashed windows of the city’s legislature and tried to force their way into the building by ramming a metal cart through the glass doors.

Protesters smashed windows of the city’s legislature and tried to force their way into the building by ramming a metal cart through the glass doors

Riot police inside the building donned gas masks and initially responded from above with pepper spray, but protesters unfurled umbrellas to shield themselves.

Some democratic lawmakers also intervened, pleading with protesters to stop trying to breach the building.

The rallies are the latest reflection of growing fears that China is stamping down on the city’s freedoms and culture with the help of the finance hub’s pro-Beijing leaders.

Benny, a 20-year-old student who gave only one name, said protesters had been prodded into action by the obduracy of the city’s pro-Beijing appointed leadership.

“This isn’t what we want, the government forced us to express (our views) this way,” he told AFP.

But the increasingly hardline tactics from some protesters have alienated others, with a large counter rally in support of the police taking place on Sunday.

Although Hong Kong returned from British to Chinese rule on July 1, 1997, it is still administered separately under an arrangement known as “one country, two systems”.

The city enjoys rights and liberties unseen on the autocratic mainland, but many residents fear Beijing is already reneging on that deal.

Champagne toasts & flags

Activists have organised a march every handover anniversary, calling for greater democratic freedoms — such as the right to elect the city’s leader.

They have mustered large crowds in recent years — including a two-month occupation of parts of the city centre in 2014 — but have failed to win any concessions from Beijing.

This year’s rally is framed by unprecedented anti-government protests of the past three weeks that have drawn millions, with the public angry over police using tear gas and rubber bullets to clear crowds.

The spark for the current wave of protests was an attempt by chief executive Carrie Lam to pass the Beijing-backed extradition law, which she has now postponed following the public backlash.

The demonstrations have since morphed into a wider movement against Lam’s administration and Beijing.

Lam — who has kept out of the public eye since her climbdown and has record low approval ratings — attended a flag-raising ceremony early Monday, marking the moment the city returned to Chinese ownership 22 years ago.

But she and other dignitaries watched from indoors due to “inclement weather” — the first time in the ceremony’s history.

Her speech stuck to the conciliatory tone she has used in recent weeks.

“What happened in recent months has caused conflicts and disputes between the government and residents,” Lam said. “It has made me fully understand that as a politician, I need to be aware and accurately grasp the feelings of the people.”

She then raised a champagne toast alongside cabinet officials and two of her predecessors.

‘Resistance’

During clashes outside the venue at least one woman was seen bleeding from a head wound and officers made multiple arrests.

Some protesters hurled eggs at police, who later said 13 officers were also sent to hospital after being doused by an “unknown liquid”.

Activists, who are mainly young students, have vowed to keep up their civil disobedience campaign.

“Whatever happens we won’t lose heart,” Jason Chan, a 22-year-old accountant added. “Resistance is not a matter of a day or a week, it is long term.”

During Sunday’s rally, tens of thousands of pro-establishment protesters gathered in support of Hong Kong’s police.

Many waved Chinese flags and hurled insults at anti-government demonstrators camped nearby, highlighting the deep ideological fissures now dividing the finance hub.

(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)

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Britain No Longer Has Any Responsibility For Hong Kong, Says China

Beijing: 

Britain no longer has any responsibility for Hong Kong and needs to stop “gesticulating” about its former colony, China’s Foreign Ministry said on Monday, after the British government reiterated its commitment to the joint declaration with China on Hong Kong.

Protesters tried to storm Hong Kong’s legislature on the anniversary of the city’s 1997 return to Chinese rule on Monday, using a metal trolley and poles to smash windows amid anger over planned legislation that would allow extraditions to China.

China two years ago announced that it considered the joint declaration, which laid the blueprint over how the city would be ruled after its return to China, was a historical document that no longer had any practical significance.

Britain says the declaration remains in force and is a legally valid treaty to which it is committed to upholding, a point repeated by British Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt on Sunday.

Ahead of the 22nd anniversary of the handover on Monday, Hunt also said that recent protests over the extradition bill made it even more important to reiterate that Britain’s commitment to the Sino-British Joint Declaration was unwavering.

Speaking in Beijing, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said that Britain’s rights and obligations under the joint declaration had ended.

“Britain has no so-called responsibility for Hong Kong. Hong Kong matters are purely an internal affair for China. No foreign country has a right to interfere,” Geng told a daily news briefing.

“Recently Britain has continuously gesticulated about Hong Kong, flagrantly interfering. We are extremely dissatisfied with this and resolutely opposed,” he added.

“We urge Britain to know its place and stop interfering in any form in Hong Kong matters and do more for its prosperity and stability rather than the opposite.”

(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)

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USMNT advances but underwhelming win feels like a step back

PHILADELPHIA — Just over a minute into second half stoppage time, the U.S. was clinging to a 1-0 lead in its Gold Cup quarterfinal against Curaçao, and U.S. manager Gregg Berhalter opted to make his second substitution of the night and bring on defender Omar Gonzalez for midfielder Paul Arriola.

Logically, the substitution made sense: Gonzalez’s aerial ability would help see the game out. It paid off as the U.S. ultimately prevailed but emotionally, the effect was much different. The move encapsulated a night that was utterly underwhelming.

In this match, the U.S. wasn’t facing one of the region’s heavyweights, it was facing Curaçao, whose national team was only formed in 2011 after the dissolution of the Netherlands Antilles and its roster graced with veterans of the Eredivisie. Sure, Curaçao had been the tournament’s surprise package by reaching the knockout stages of the Gold Cup for the first time in its history, but it was still ranked 79 by FIFA and considered one of the minnows.

– Ratings: Pulisic 6/10 bails out U.S.
– Gold Cup: Full fixtures schedule

Tournament play is about “survive and advance,” as the late collegiate basketball coach Jim Valvano was fond of saying. On this occasion, the U.S. did thanks to Weston McKennie’s 25th minute winner, and now it finds itself in the Gold Cup semifinals with a match against Jamaica in Nashville this Wednesday.

“When you get to the knockout stages, everyone wants to move on to the next round, and they’re going to give absolutely everything,” said U.S. midfielder Christian Pulisic, who assisted on McKennie’s goal. “Curaçao, 100 percent wanted that today. You could see that in the way that they played. We came out with the win and we’re on to the next one. That’s all we’re looking at.”

None of those facts can excuse this U.S. performance, however.

This was not a win that involved a 40-shot barrage and ab opposition goalkeeper having the game of his life to keep the game close. Rather, this was a win in which the U.S. limped across the finish line, content to cede possession to the tune of a 59.7%-40.3% disadvantage in the second half.

Putting on an extra defender to secure a victory against a relative minnow was sobering to say the least. Despite the win, and fourth consecutive clean sheet, it felt like step backward.

Granted, this was a night when the Americans’ press wasn’t working, with Curaçao keeper Eloy Room proving adept at finding the open man, enabling the visitors to play out of the back. But the problems went deeper than the U.S. being unable to force turnovers.

McKennie and Michael Bradley looked out of sync defensively in the U.S. midfield, allowing Curaçao to play through them at times with relative ease. On more the one occasion, one could see Bradley desperately trying to chase down a Curaçao attacker from behind, as clear a sign as any that all was not well with the U.S. defense in transition.

What was curious — and disappointing — was Berhalter’s response to it. With a 1-0 lead, the U.S. sat deeper and dared Curaçao to break them down.

Afterwards, Berhalter was asked if ceding possession was intentional, and he responded by saying: “We weren’t going to press the goalie. You saw in the first half that the goalie didn’t want to play the ball forward. We were happy not to fall into the trap of trying to press them. It would cost us more energy than it was worth, so we dropped off and mostly didn’t press goalkeeper.”

Left unexplained was why the U.S. couldn’t be the team to keep possession, make Curaçao chase, and prey on their desperation to score a goal that would even the match.

Certainly against high-calibre teams it can be argued that the U.S. isn’t adept at the possession game, but it’s a task that seems doable in a tournament like the Gold Cup. Even Pulisic sounded a bit conflicted by the approach. “As long as they weren’t breaking us down, we were okay in the end,” he said. “But obviously we would like to have the ball more than we did today.”

It’s also not what Berhalter has been preaching since he took over, yet here his conservative impulses took over. It isn’t the kind of dynamic play to win fans over either.

The extent to which the approach doesn’t bode well for the semi is debatable. Jamaica has skillful attacking players, but they aren’t as good in possession as Curaçao. The Reggae Boyz are also willing to use their speed on the counter and, as a recent friendly between the two teams showed, they are savvy with their timing in terms of when and where to pressure the U.S.

But the onus will be on the U.S. attack, one that seems as dependent as ever on Pulisic. On this night, Tyler Boyd was energetic, but didn’t take good care of the ball; Arriola, aside from one telling cross that was skied over the bar by Gyasi Zardes, was barely noticeable.

Berhalter acknowledged improvements to the U.S. attack are needed. “I think it’s about speed, speed of moments, having a mentality to turn their defenders, having a mentality to disorganize their defense and get behind their defense,” he said. “We could have been more aggressive with that tonight for sure.”

One obvious change would be to get Jozy Altidore on the field from the start given his holdup play and. more importantly, his ability be a playmaker when he drops deeper into midfield. That would relieve Pulisic from shouldering all of the creative burden and provide another conduit to the wingers.

Yet Berhalter, for whatever reason, seems reluctant to go that route. U.S. Soccer insists Altidore is healthy; Berhalter said that the team’s intention in the second half to utilize transition opportunities in attack didn’t suit Altidore, so that was why he wasn’t used in this match. But with each passing game, it seems Berhalter simply prefers Zardes, as mindboggling as that sounds.

Heading into the Gold Cup, reaching the final was considered the minimum in terms of success for the Americans. Getting there now will require a performance well beyond what was delivered in the quarters.

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US Press Secretary Bruised After Brawl With North Korea Security: Report

New White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham was bruised Sunday in a scuffle between North Korean security and members of the U.S. press pool covering President Donald Trump’s meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, the Associated Press reported.

The incident, which was partially caught on video, occurred after Trump became the first sitting U.S. present to visit North Korea and days after Grisham took on the job.

The Secret Service intervened as North Korean guards pushed and shoved American reporters to block them from entering the Inter-Korean House of Freedom south of the border, where Trump and Kim were meeting, according to the AP.

Grisham stepped into the chaotic scene to help U.S. media gain access, according to tweets from journalists.

In video footage, Grisham can be heard telling members of the press, “Go, go!” as she pushes past a man standing in front of a camera. Another man carrying a camera runs through the gap she creates.

Before the tussle, press outside the building had been told they would not be let in. But then a U.S. official said they were allowed.

Video shows a woman shouting for the U.S. pool to enter amid a din of voices.

“The North Korean security was a little overzealous, at times trying to block US reporters’ view,” wrote Jennifer Jacobs, a senior White House reporter at Bloomberg, adding that the clash “came to body blows.”

Later, Grisham could be seen directing reporters outside the House of Freedom and was with Trump at the DMZ, according to CNN.

Grisham and the White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

On Sunday, Trump briefly stepped across the border while meeting Kim in the demilitarized zone between North and South Korea four months after the leaders’ last nuclear talks broke down in Vietnam.

Sunday’s private discussions, which lasted almost an hour, were billed as reopening the fraught negotiations.

“Speed is not the object, we want to see if we can do a really comprehensive, good deal,” Trump said afterward. “Nobody knows how things turn out, but certainly this was a great day, this was a very legendary, very historic day.”

Grisham has spent two years as communications director for first lady Melania Trump and replaced Sarah Sanders as White House press secretary last week.

Like Sanders before her, Grisham has been critical of the media and has “developed a reputation as a pugnacious defender” of the First Lady, as The Washington Post reported Tuesday when Grisham’s new role was announced.

Grisham, 42, has sometimes adopted a sharp tone in her statements – something traditionally not seen from the East Wing but in tune with the often confrontational stance of the Trump White House’s press operations.

When the president went after MSNBC host Mika Brzezinski in the summer of 2017, claiming falsely in a tweet that she was “bleeding badly from a facelift,” Grisham defended Trump: “When (he) gets attacked, he will punch back 10 times harder.”

Grisham is keeping her role as the first lady’s spokeswoman as she takes on the press secretary job.

(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)

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Venezuela crisis: Outrage over navy captain’s death in custody

Venezuela’s opposition has denounced the death of a navy captain held over an alleged plot to assassinate President Nicolás Maduro and called for an investigation.

Rafael Acosta, 49, was among six policemen and soldiers arrested on Wednesday.

They were detained weeks after a failed military uprising against Mr Maduro.

Facing charges of treason and sedition, Mr Acosta appeared in court on Friday, but fainted before proceedings began.

He was rushed to a military hospital in the capital, Caracas, but died in the early hours of Saturday morning, Venezuela’s defence ministry said in a statement.

“Despite providing him with the appropriate medical attention, he died,” the statement said.

Opposition leader Juan Guaidó, who orchestrated the attempted uprising against Mr Maduro on 30 April, claimed in a video that Mr Acosta was “savagely and brutally tortured”.

“This isn’t the first time in Venezuela we have denounced this type of act,” he said.

Mr Acosta’s wife, Waleska Pérez, says the navy corvette captain was barely conscious when he appeared at the military tribunal in a wheelchair, with signs of torture visible on his body.

“They tortured him so much that they killed him,” Ms Pérez, speaking from Colombia, told TV channel EVTV Miami.

Venezuela’s government has said it will investigate Mr Acosta’s death, but has not elaborated on the cause or circumstances preceding it.

His death comes after UN human rights chief Michelle Bachelet finished a visit to the country to investigate claims of human rights abuses, including torture and extrajudicial killings.

President Maduro has intensified a crackdown on the opposition since April’s failed military uprising.

More than 700 people have been detained in Venezuela for political reasons, including 100 members of the military, according to local rights group Foro Penal.

The crisis in Venezuela deepened in January after Mr Guaidó, head of the National Assembly, declared himself interim president, arguing that Mr Maduro’s re-election last year had been “illegitimate”.

He has since been recognised by more than 50 countries, including the US and most of Latin America. But Mr Maduro retains the loyalty of most of the military and important allies such as China and Russia.

Mr Guaidó recently told the BBC’s James Menendez that the use of military force is still an option if Mr Maduro continues killing protesters.

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Since April’s failed rebellion, described by Mr Maduro as part of a US-orchestrated coup, many opposition MPs have lost their parliamentary immunity and some have been arrested. While Mr Guaidó’s parliamentary immunity has been lifted, he has so far not been jailed.

Some four million people have fled Venezuela since 2015, according to the UN, amid a severe year-long economic crisis that has resulted in high unemployment and chronic shortages of food and medicine.


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Transfer window: Eriksen, Rashford lead top free agents in 2020

There are some big names available on a free transfer in summer 2020 from Europe’s biggest clubs if they don’t put pen to paper soon. Here are the top ones, with the help of Transfermarkt.

Christian Eriksen (Tottenham)

Tottenham were able to avoid a mess by signing Jan Vertonghen and Toby Alderweireld up to one-year extensions, meaning they will also expire in 2020, but they haven’t made any ground with Eriksen as yet. The Denmark midfielder would be a massive loss and if he doesn’t want to commit then a €100m move to Real Madrid looks the best bet.

Marcus Rashford (Man United)

Manchester United have made a habit of adding the option for a further year to all their deals, so there’s no fear Rashford will leave in 2020. In fact, he’s likely to stay and sign a new contract this summer to double his wages. Meanwhile, Eric Bailly and Nemanja Matic are the other two on the agenda, along with those who are already into their one-year extensions.

David De Gea (Man United)

And, of course, De Gea. Arguably the best goalkeeper around struggled towards the end of the season and those rumours of a move to Real Madrid started up again. Sources have told ESPN that United will move for Atletico’s Jan Oblak if De Gea departs.

Nabil Fekir (Lyon)

It seems a long time ago when Fekir was on the verge of a move to Liverpool before it fell through. The France midfielder is in talks over a new deal, but Liverpool are still keen and Chelsea will be watching the situation carefully too.

Luka Modric (Real Madrid)

Sergio Ramos evidently has a deal until 2021 rather than the reported 2020, but Modric does not and at 33 he could well decide it’s time to move, having almost joined Inter Milan last year. Goalkeeper Keylor Navas is another who surely won’t want to stick around given his lack of playing time.

Edinson Cavani (PSG)

Cavani has cut a frustrated figure at PSG behind Neymar and Kylian Mbappe in goals and status. At 32, he will be considering his next move. Manchester United might also be keen on right-back Thomas Meunier, who looks set to move on before his deal expires at the same time. Thiago Silva is also out of contract, but may have few takers.

Callum Hudson-Odoi (Chelsea)

Now that the Eden Hazard saga has been put to bed finally, Chelsea can turn their attentions to a host of other wingers whose contracts are expiring next summer. Hudson-Odoi has been linked with a move to Bayern Munich but the Blues will want to tie the England international down once he recovers from injury. Willian and Pedro‘s deals are also expiring, so the club need to act fast.

Ryan Sessegnon (Fulham)

Tottenham have tracked the 19-year-old winger for some time and, helped by the fact that Fulham were relegated, they look set to land him this summer. Sessegnon is worth a reported £35m, which will only get lower as his contract runs down, so Fulham would be wise to sell now.

Timo Werner (RB Leipzig)

Liverpool and Bayern Munich have led the charge to land the 23-year-old Germany striker, who has made it very clear he will not sign an extension at Leipzig. Liverpool stars Sadio Mane and Naby Keita were certainly keen to make their case why he should move to Anfield.

Mario Gotze (Dortmund)

Forever to be known as the man who scored the winner in the 2014 World Cup final for Germany, Gotze may feel like he has some more to prove. Still only 27, after a failed move to Bayern, links to Liverpool (and former boss Jurgen Klopp) won’t go away. But the club are in talks over an extension and Portugal left-back Raphael Guerreiro is another that Dortmund will want to keep.

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Transfer window grades: Tracking every big signing from Europe’s top clubs

Welcome to summer transfer window, now open for all clubs in Europe. We are grading the most notable signings below from the top teams, so come back throughout the month for updates as deals are completed.

The most recent grades and write-ups are at the top, with July 1 being when the moves from Europe’s offseason are officially complete. Each day is in order of highest price.

If you don’t see a grade for a deal that has been completed, check back later.

JULY 1

EDEN HAZARD, €100m (£89m/$113m)
Chelsea grade: A
Real Madrid grade: A

This deal was always going to happen, so it’s impossible to split the two clubs involved as they both got a great deal. Chelsea managed to bank an initial payment of around £88.5m for a player with one year left on his contract, while they also worked out a series of bonus payments which could add another £60m to the fee.

For their part, Madrid finally have a world-class replacement for Cristiano Ronaldo and a player who, at 28, is just approaching the peak of his powers. A five-year contract means he will be 33 by the time it ends, but if he can recreate anything like the form he has shown at Stamford Bridge then the Madrid fans will be happy.

LUCAS HERNANDEZ, €80m ($90m)
Atletico Madrid grade: C+
Bayern Munich grade: A

It’s been quite a 12 months for Lucas — first a World Cup winners’ medal with France and now he’s become one of the most expensive defenders of all time. The 23-year-old still has plenty of time to grow and his ability to play either left-back or centre-back means Bayern have plenty of options.

In landing Lucas, who only signed a contract extension with Atletico last summer, alongside international teammate Benjamin Pavard (see below), the German side have secured their defence for the next decade. A great move, albeit an expensive one.

Atletico will gladly take the cash and use it to reinforce their side, but with Diego Godin already departing and right-back Juanfran turning down a new contract, one wonders if they will leave themselves open to defensive issues (and we’ve not even mentioned Antoine Griezmann’s plan to move on).

FRENKIE DE JONG, €75m ($85.5m)
Ajax grade: B+
Barcelona grade: A

If Dortmund have found plenty of success buying cheap and selling big, Ajax are the blueprint to follow. The academy system brings through players at a young age, gives them first-team football and turns them into superstars. Frenkie de Jong has only made just over 50 appearances for Ajax but the 21-year-old holding midfielder cost Barcelona €75m — money that Ajax will use to put back into the club and find the next player for the production line.

Announcing the deal in January was smart as the speculation was starting to impact player and club, so Ajax deserve props for that. But one wonders if they could have bagged even more money if they had waited for the summer when Man City, PSG and Real Madrid might have come in for him. Still, €75m is a fine amount and they got to keep him for the rest of the season to reach the Champions League semifinals (and oh-so-nearly the final) and win the Dutch Double.

For Barcelona, De Jong is the natural heir to Sergio Busquets. He will learn a lot in the next couple of years playing with Busquets and teammates, while his style is perfect for how Barca play.

CHRISTIAN PULISIC, €64m (£58m/$73m)
Dortmund grade: B
Chelsea grade: A+

Ok, so technically Chelsea signed U.S. international Christian Pulisic in January, but by loaning him back to Dortmund for the rest of the season he’s not been eligible to play for the Blues until July 1 . The much-coveted 20-year-old had been tracked by every top club in the world, but Chelsea moved to tie him down — perhaps as a replacement for Eden Hazard –and it’s a signing that safeguards the club’s future as much as it improves their current squad.

Pulisic’s combination of guile, creativity and skill make him one of the standout prospects in the world so for the Blues to land him for only €64m is a real coup.

Yes, Dortmund could have held out for more, they could have started a bidding war, but with only 18 months remaining on his contract when the deal was done, the German club knew they would be playing with fire. It’s another star player sold, but as long as they keep snapping up gems like Jadon Sancho then they’ll be fine.

LUKA JOVIC, €60m ($67.5m)
Frankfurt grade: A+
Real Madrid grade: A

The 21-year-old shot to prominence on loan at Frankfurt this season with 17 goals in the Bundesliga and 10 in 11 games in the Europa League to help the club to the semifinals. Frankfurt knew there was no chance they would be able to keep such a gem, so took advantage of a clause in his contract with Benfica to sign him on a permanent transfer for €7m.

A few months, and millions of euros of profit later, he moved to Real for around €60m.

Frankfurt did the best possible deal they could, while Real get themselves one of the hottest young strikers around to eventually replace Karim Benzema. Benfica (who aren’t graded here due to the fact they no longer had a stake in the player) will be the ones kicking themselves — as they only get 30 percent of the fee.

RODRYGO, €54m ($61.4m)
Santos grade: A+
Real Madrid grade: B

Having already spent €45m on young Brazilian attacker Vinicius Jr. back in 2017, Real Madrid agreed another monster deal in the summer of 2018 for a highly-rated 18-year-old who had been linked with Barcelona.

Rodrygo certainly has the talent to succeed and, if you believe his teammate Vinicius, can be “a great, like Neymar or [Kylian] Mbappe.” Real would probably settle for the forward having the same impact as Vinicius did though, after the winger made a real impression at the Bernabeu in the second half of 2018-19 season with his skill and speed.

At €54m, Real have gambled on youth but it’s a gamble that could pay off. There was no chance a talent like Rodrygo was going to stay in Brazil and Santos, as they have done many times before, got the best deal they possibly could. Let’s just hope there’s no succession of court cases in a few years’ time about who was owed what like we saw with Neymar to Barcelona.

EDER MILITAO, €50m ($56m)
FC Porto grade: A+
Real Madrid grade: C

At first glance, Real Madrid spending €50m on a 21-year-old centre-back might be deemed good business. A solid defender is hard to find, after all. But then you consider that Porto signed Eder Militao for €7m just last summer and that Sergio Ramos and Raphael Varane are two of the best centre-backs in world football, with Dani Carvajal and Alvaro Odriozola occupying the right-back slot, so he won’t be playing regularly any time soon.

In signing a six-year deal, there’s no doubt that Eder has plenty of room to grow. But Real have wasted young talent before by keeping him on the bench, and it feels like this one is doomed to fail.

From Porto’s perspective, a €43m profit inside eight months is incredible business. After a lucrative run in this season’s Champions League, they can reinvest and move on quickly.

FERLAND MENDY, €48m ($54m)
Lyon grade: A
Real Madrid grade: B

Zinedine Zidane must have seen something he liked in Mendy to splash almost €50m on him despite having three left-backs already at the club. Real Madrid will have to work out what to do with 31-year-old Marcelo, Sergio Reguilon (22), who impressed earlier this season, and Theo Hernandez (21). Presumably a loan spell beckons for the latter two, while Mendy and Marcelo will fight it out for a place in the starting XI.

Marcelo is a Zidane favourite, so it’s possible that Mendy could spend a fair part of the season on the bench. But a deal for the 24-year-old does solve the issue over who will replace the Brazilian long-term.

Lyon will miss him, but got a very good fee and can use the cash to find a replacement. Perhaps Reguilon or Hernandez will be interested in a move to France…

MATS HUMMELS, €38m ($42.5m)
Bayern grade: A
Dortmund grade: C+

Hummels left Dortmund back in 2016 for a reported fee of €39m and now returns with three more Bundesliga titles in his pocket for only €1m less. The trouble is he’s 30 and, while he’s still a class act, Dortmund are overpaying and could limit the development of youngsters Manuel Akanji and Dan-Axel Zagadou by bringing him back into the fold.

In the past, signing a player from Bayern would have been seen as a coup — but this deal doesn’t weaken the champions and actually pays for half of their €80m outlay on the much younger and more dynamic Lucas Hernandez. Or the whole of the versatile Benjamin Pavard.

When Mario Gotze returned to Dortmund from Bayern in 2016, he was 24 and still had plenty of offer. Re-signing Hummels might be an emotional decision, it might serve them well for a year or two, but one can’t help feel that Bayern have got the better of the deal once more.

JASPER CILLISSEN €35m ($40m)

Valencia grade: C
Barcelona grade: B-

Jasper Cillessen wanted out of Barcelona and they did well to get a big fee for him, while also moving for Valencia’s goalkeeper Neto as his replacement.

Barcelona got the better of the deal as Cillessen is one year old and cost more money, but it’s a close call.

Cillessen will be No. 1, while Neto will be sat on the bench, so it’s a better move for the Dutchman personally.

BENJAMIN PAVARD, €35m ($40m)
Stuttgart grade: B
Bayern grade: B+

Bayern have been a bit of a mess at times this season, but Benjamin Pavard’s performances for France in winning the World Cup last summer suggested that he can help them fix their issues. The 22-year-old can play at right-back or centre-back, so that versatility will be key for Bayern, while his release clause of €35m won’t break the bank either.

If we’re being completely honest, he’s not the world-class addition that Bayern would shout from the rooftops but he’s a solid addition with room to grow and he should play a big role in the next few years.

Clearly outgrowing Stuttgart, there was nothing much they could do to stop him leaving either, so it’s a decent deal for them too.

RAUL JIMENEZ, £30m (€35m/$40m)
Benfica grade: C
Wolves grade: A

You have to hand it to Raul Jimenez, struggling since he left Liga MX in 2014, the Mexico international striker made the best of his loan move to Wolves and earned himself a permanent deal, which the club were only too happy to break their transfer record to make happen after he scored 13 Premier League goals — the joint most by any Mexican player in one season (matching Javier Hernandez).

A year of failure at Atletico Madrid and three seasons at Benfica in which he failed to get into double figures in the goals department has not daunted him. At 27, the chance to play at the top wasn’t going to come around again and his form this season at Wolves has been nothing short of sensational. Only promoted last season, Wolves are looking like a class act.

Benfica initially landed him from Atletico for just under €10m, bought out his rights for another €12m and can count a healthy profit from their endeavours. They will only wonder how they weren’t able to get the best out of him as Wolves clearly have.

NETO, €26m ($29m)

Valencia grade: C
Barcelona grade: B-

As soon as Cillessen told Barca he wanted to move on, they had to find a replacement and managing to land one for less than they sold Cillessen for is good business.

Neto is a reliable goalkeeper but won’t get much first-team action with Marc-Andre ter Stegen around and, at 29, it could be his last big move.

THORGAN HAZARD, £20m (€22m/$25m)
Gladbach grade: B
Dortmund grade: B+

The younger brother of Eden Hazard cost a lot less than his sibling! Thorgan has been living in the shadow of Eden for some time but now has a platform to showcase his real talents and Dortmund have got themselves a good deal (to go along with their capture of Julian Brandt from Leverkusen.)

His 46 goals and 44 assists in 182 appearances across all competitions for Gladbach prove that he is an attacking force and, at 26, he has plenty of time to develop.

For Gladbach, €25m will go a long way to rebuilding their team as they seek to improve on a fifth-placed finish this season. They could have held out for more money if it were not for the fact that Thorgan’s contract was set to run out in 2020.

AARON RAMSEY, Free
Arsenal grade: F
Juventus grade: A

It’s actually quite hard to see how Arsenal could have made a worse job of this deal. First up they offer Aaron Ramsey a new deal, then they pull it out from underneath him and say he can leave on a free. So he does.

Evidently it’s all down to the position he would have played under Unai Emery, but the fact of the matter is that the Gunners are letting one of Europe’s top midfielders, coming into the peak of his powers at 28 years old, depart for nothing. And with only a reported £40m to spend on reinforcements for the whole squad, there’s no guarantee they will be able to replace him adequately.

Juventus did what they always seem to do and signed a quality player for nothing, so it’s an A for them. It’s only not an A+ because they had to make him a very lucrative wage offer to get him to sign. Gab Marcotti explains why that was a reckless move.

DIEGO GODIN, Free
Atletico Madrid grade: C+
Inter Milan grade: A

Allowing one of the world’s best defenders to run out his contract is not great business by Atletico, even if they have already brought in replacements (see above).

The 33-year-old is not getting any younger, true, but he’s still young enough to pen a three-year contract with Inter, who now have a rock at the back with plenty of experience to help instil Antonio Conte’s defensive style on his new teammates.

This grade was pretty simple: Atletico’s defence is worse without Godin, while Inter’s has just got better.

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Nicol: Wan-Bissaka can be Man United’s right back for a decade

ESPN FC’s Steve Nicol calls Aaron Wan-Bissaka “one of the best right-backs in the Premier League” and believes he’s a perfect fit for Man United.

JUNE 29

AARON WAN-BISSAKA, £50m ($63.4m)
Crystal Palace grade: A+
Man United grade: B-

This is a tough one. On the one hand you have a 21-year-old defender who wasn’t even a right-back two years ago, with only one good season behind him at Crystal Palace, costing one of the leading clubs in the country £50m. But then he does have the potential to lock down the United right-back slot for the next decade.

Ultimately, £50m just feels like too much of a gamble when there were other more experienced players around like PSG’s Thomas Meunier. Wan-Bissaka could be a revelation in the same way that Trent Alexander-Arnold has been for Liverpool, but it’s an incredible price to pay for one so young and inexperienced.

Palace did everything right — they sold one of their best assets for a fee that could bring them in three new players. They negotiated hard, turning down United’s lower offers with ridiculous clauses inserted about possible add-ons if they win the Champions League, and held out for the price they wanted.

JUNE 27

SEPP VAN DEN BERG, £1.3m (€1.4m/$1.6m)
PEC Zwolle grade: C
Liverpool grade: B

Van den Berg has been touted as one of the brightest talents in Dutch football and while the rest of Europe falls over to spend €75m on Matthijs de Ligt, Liverpool landed a 17-year-old with huge potential for a tiny fee.

Beating Bayern Munich and Ajax to his signature, the Reds will be pleased he can develop with the help of Virgil van Dijk. While fellow Netherlands under-19 international Ki-Jana Hoever is also tipped for big things and the pair could form the basis for Liverpool’s defence for the next decade.

Zwolle could do little when Liverpool came calling and did well to include £3.1m in add-ons, based on his performances at Anfield. But they may wish they had help onto him for a bit longer to drive his price up.

JUNE 25

ANDRE GOMES, £22m (€25m/$28m)
Barcelona grade: B
Everton grade: B+

Everton did the old ‘try before you buy’ as they had the Portugal midfielder on loan last season and he impressed enough for them to want to sign him on a permanent deal.

Given he joined Barcelona for €35m in 2016, the 25-year-old is a decent deal for Everton and they now know what he can do in the Premier League. They’ll just expect him to do the same again.

Barcelona were happy to get anything for a player who has no future at Camp Nou and can reinvest the money into the rest of their squad. But ultimately they lost money on this deal.

JUNE 12

DANIEL JAMES, £15m ($19m)
Swansea grade: B
Man United grade: B

James is only 21, so a sign of how Manchester United are looking to buy this summer under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer. For an initial fee of around £15m, potentially rising to £22m, it’s a bargain for a player who has plenty of room to grow. However, it’s also a gamble given he’s never played in the Premier League before and has only one full season in the Championship under his belt.

It’s not a signing that is going to immediately put United back in contention for the title, but it’s one that can get them back on the right road.

Swansea could have let James join Leeds for £8.5m in January, but held out and his price has doubled. Could they have held out even longer and pushed the price up even more? Perhaps… but it’s still a decent deal for them.

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US Senator Kamala Harris Dances At Pride Parade In San Francisco

San Francisco: 

US Senator and presidential hopeful Kamala Harris joined the large crowd and danced at the San Francisco’s Pride parade. 

The senator from California, who has regularly participated in pride parades ever since she was district attorney, wore shiny rainbow-coloured sequined jacket. She completed her look with white jeans and comfortable matching sneakers.

“Such an honour to be back home in San Francisco to celebrate #Pride. Remember, we will leave no one to fight alone,” the Indian-origin Senator tweeted along with a video.

In a 10-second-video, exuberant Ms Harris is seen waving at the crowd from the stage with loud music in the background. 

In another clip, Ms Harris reached straight into the charged-up crowd and danced with a wide grin on her face. 

World Pride is an event, which organised to celebrate and promote lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT pride) issues on international platforms through parades, festivals and other cultural activities.

On January 21, Ms Harris announced that she will be competing for the US presidential elections in 2020. The Democrat Senator is the first African-American woman to announce a run for the White House in 2020. 

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Hong Kong: Police and protesters clash on handover anniversary

Police in Hong Kong have clashed with protesters marking the anniversary of its handover from UK to Chinese rule.

In chaotic scenes on Monday, police used pepper spray and batons to contain protesters outside a venue hosting an annual flag-raising ceremony.

A small group of protesters also smashed into the government building.

This is the latest in a series of protests against a controversial bill that would allow extraditions to mainland China.

The government has agreed to suspend it indefinitely, but the rallies continue and Chief Executive Carrie Lam is facing ongoing calls to resign.

Pro-democracy events are held every year to mark the handover. Large crowds are expected to attend a march and rally later on Monday, but police are now urging the organisers to shorten or cancel the event over safety concerns.

What has been happening so far on Monday?

The flag-raising ceremony to mark the handover took place inside the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre, amid heavy police presence.

Authorities said demonstrators began blocking several roads near the venue early on Monday morning, using items like metal and plastic barriers to block the way.

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Outside the Convention and Exhibition Centre, police officers equipped with shields and batons clashed with hundreds of protesters around 30 minutes before the ceremony.

Police also used pepper spray to disperse the crowd.

News agency AFP said at least one woman was seen bleeding from a head wound after the clashes.

A police statement condemned “illegal acts” by protesters, who it said had taken iron poles and guard rails from nearby building sites.

The force later said 13 police officers had been taken to hospital after protesters threw an “unknown liquid” at them on Monday morning. Some were said to have suffered breathing difficulties as a result.

Around lunchtime local time, a breakaway group of protesters moved to the Legislative Council building (LegCo), where the government meets.

A small group of protesters continually rammed a metal trolley against the glass doors of the building as some on the sidelines yelled words of encouragement.

The group later succeeded in smashing in the door, but have not yet made their way into the building.

Riot police could be seen just inside the building.

Some democratic lawmakers pleaded with protesters to stop trying to force their way in.

Police have called on the demonstrators to stop all acts of violence, and are asking the public the avoid the area around LegCo.

Speaking at the flag ceremony in the morning, Hong Kong’s leader Carrie Lam said she would spend more time listening to the public.

“I will learn the lesson and ensure that the government’s future work will be closer and more responsive to the aspirations, sentiments and opinions of the community,” she said.

It was Ms Lam’s first public appearance since 18 June, when she issued an apology for her handling of the extradition law.

Why have people been protesting?

Hong Kong, a former British colony, has been part of China since 1997 under the “one country, two systems” principle, which allows it freedoms not seen on the mainland, including judicial independence.

The extradition bill raised concerns for that status.

Critics of the bill feared it could be used to target opponents of the government in Beijing, and to bring Hong Kong further under China’s control.

On 12 June police used tear gas and rubber bullets to disperse crowds marching against the bill – the worst violence in the city in decades.

Eventually, the demonstrations forced the government to apologise and suspend the planned extradition law.

However, many protesters said they would not back down until the bill had been completely scrapped.

Many are still angry about the level of force used by police on 12 June, and have called for an investigation.

“The Hong Kong police’s well-documented use of excessive force against peaceful protesters urgently demands a fully independent investigation,” said Sophie Richardson, China director at Human Rights Watch in a statement.

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However, there have also been smaller demonstrations from the territory’s pro-Beijing movement.

On Sunday, thousands of pro-Beijing protesters rallied in support of the Hong Kong police.

One pro-Beijing protester told AFP police were just trying to “maintain order”, calling the anti-extradition protesters “senseless”.


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