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World

U.K. Parliament Advances Brexit Bill, All but Assuring January Exit


At least Ms. May and Mr. Corbyn still hold their seats in Parliament. The leader of the centrist and pro-European Liberal Democrats, Jo Swinson, was ejected by voters in her constituency after a brief and disastrous spell as leader, when she campaigned on the idea of reversing Brexit.

So, too, was Nigel Dodds, who had been Westminster leader of the Northern Irish Democratic Unionist Party, and whose political fortunes symbolized the twists and turns of the Brexit roller coaster.

For two years, after the general election in 2017, Mr. Dodds held the balance of power at Westminster. He propped up Mrs. May’s Conservative minority government and helped kill her Brexit plan by withdrawing support for it from his bloc of 10 Democratic Unionist lawmakers.

When Mr. Johnson became prime minister last summer and renegotiated the Brexit agreement, the deal became worse from the perspective of the Democratic Unionists because it now requires checks on goods moving between Britain and Northern Ireland. In the election, voters dumped Mr. Dodds from his seat in North Belfast, one of two seats lost by the party.

Many other famous faces are missing from the new Parliament.

Philip Hammond, who served as chancellor of the Exchequer under Mrs. May, was expelled from the Conservative Party by Mr. Johnson for resisting his Brexit policy. He did not run again for his seat.

Nor did others who were ejected from the party, including Nicholas Soames, a grandson of Winston Churchill, though he was later reinstated, and Rory Stewart, who is now a candidate for London mayor.

“The political landscape has completely changed,” said Vernon Bogdanor, a professor of government at King’s College London. There could be another decade of Conservative rule, he said, because the Labour Party will need two general elections to recover its standing with voters.

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Putin bristles at Western criticism of 1939 Soviet-Nazi pact


MOSCOW (AP) — Russian President Vladimir Putin on Friday strongly rejected Western criticism of a 1939 Soviet pact with Nazi Germany, arguing that Western powers, not the Soviet Union, were responsible for trying to appease the Nazis.

World War II still evokes painful memories in Russia, which lost an estimated 27 million in the war. The Kremlin is anxious to see the nation’s sacrifices and its role in defeating the Nazis duly recognized as the nation prepares to mark the 75th anniversary of the victory next May.

Putin, speaking during Friday’s meeting with the leaders of other ex-Soviet nations in St. Petersburg, strongly criticized a recent resolution of the European parliament, which blamed the 1939 Soviet-Nazi pact for the outbreak of World War II.

Two weeks after Germany invaded Poland on Sept. 1, 1939, the Soviet Union invaded Poland from the east, with Adolf Hitler and Soviet dictator Josef Stalin carving up Poland and the Baltic states based on a secret protocol in the Molotov-Ribbentrop pact signed on Aug. 23, 1939.

Putin argued that the 1939 pact followed numerous agreements that Britain, France and Poland signed with the Nazis in a bid to appease Hitler. He insisted that those deals, including the 1938 Munich pact that allowed Hitler to annex Czechoslovakia, encouraged the Nazis and paved way to World War II.

Putin charged that the Soviet Union had no other choice but to sign a deal with Germany after the Western powers had cold-shouldered Moscow’s proposals for a military alliance.

“The Soviet Union was the last to sign a non-aggression pact with Hitler,” he said.

The Nazis broke the pact and invaded the Soviet Union on June 22, 1941.

Putin described the European parliament’s document as part of what he cast as Western efforts to downplay a decisive role that the Soviet Union played in defeating the Nazis.

“They want to shift the blame for unleashing World War II from the Nazis to Communists,” Putin said.

In a highly emotional speech, the Russian president pointed at the removal of monuments to Red Army soldiers in eastern and central Europe as an insult to their memory.

“Those Red Army soldiers were simple people — workers and farmers — and many of them suffered from Stalin’s regime,” he said. “These people sacrificed their lives to free Europe from the Nazis, and now they tear down monuments to them. They do it to cover up what effectively was a collusion of European leaders with Hitler.”

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World

As Modi Pushes Hindu Agenda, a Secular India Fights Back


NEW DELHI — Wearing Muslim skullcaps, colorful turbans of Indian Sikhs or hip beanies of secular university students, thousands protested at the largest mosque in India’s capital on Friday, a turbulent scene that played out in multiple cities across the country. They defied government curfews, internet shutdowns and the divisive politics that have kept them apart for years.

The unrest, now in its second week and increasingly violent, started over a contentious citizenship law that favors every other South Asian faith over Islam. It has since evolved into a broader fight over what demonstrators say is an increasingly authoritarian government bent on dismantling India’s foundation: a secular nation that draws strength from its diversity.

“You just needed a trigger,” said Jasbir Singh, a Sikh information technology worker who joined the protests in Bangalore this past week. “In India, religion never decided your citizenship, and it should not in the future.”

More and more people are pouring into the streets, and many have clashed with police officers. On Friday, six protesters were killed in several towns in northern India, according to officials and Indian news media reports, as officers used water cannons, tear gas, wooden sticks and possibly live ammunition against the demonstrators. At least 14 lives have been lost since the first protests erupted.

The protests have emerged as the biggest challenge yet to Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his agenda. His governing Bharatiya Janata Party has not shied away from articulating its vision of India as a homeland for Hindus.

Mr. Modi has tried to play down the diversity of the crowds, describing the protesters last Sunday as disgruntled Muslims and saying that they could be “identified by their clothes.” But the anger over the law is widespread, with Indians of various political stripes, creeds and backgrounds worried that one religion could become dominant.

It has galvanized university students, mirroring a pushback against conservative forces around the world. It has drawn in activists, intellectuals and professionals, continuing a long tradition of protests in India.

And it has prompted a global backlash. The United Nations and various rights groups condemned the law, while some American lawmakers called for sanctions.

“Those who want to implement discriminatory laws want to do a second partition, as if the millions dying in the first one wasn’t enough,” said Mr. Singh, the technology worker, referring to the bloody sectarian violence that unfolded in 1947 when the subcontinent was split, establishing India and Pakistan. “After seeing so many people protesting in Mumbai and Bangalore yesterday, I feel that old India is still alive.”

Protesters are also growing tired of Mr. Modi’s sectarianism as the economy sputters. At the polls, some Indians had put aside their apprehension of the prime minister, attracted to his economic plans. The country’s growth rate has now fallen to its lowest level in six years.

“A lot of people voted for Modi because of the economic issues and corruption. Now, the economy is in real bad shape and corruption has not gone down,” said Aadhira Gaikwad, 26, an advertising professional who protested in Mumbai. “All he is doing is using religion to hide under the real issues.”

“When the prime minister of this country says protesters can be identified by their clothes, it just fuels the fire,” Ms. Gaikwad added. “This is what he has done all these years.”

For India’s Muslim population, the protests are deeply personal. Muslims have watched the rise of Hindu nationalism under Mr. Modi with a wary eye.

Dozens of Muslims have been lynched by angry Hindu mobs, with the perpetrators often walking free. The country’s only Muslim-majority state, Jammu and Kashmir, was stripped of its autonomy in August, and thousands of young men and elected politicians were detained without being charged. And the Supreme Court, in a case known as “Ayodhya,” ruled that a temple could be built at the site where a centuries-old mosque once stood before a Hindu mob tore it down.

Until now, Muslims had largely remained quiet, hoping that sectarian relations could be restored. But when the government passed the citizenship law this month, many felt they had to mobilize or risk losing even more.

“We are at a tipping point now,” said Mohammad Abduzar, 26, from Merut in Uttar Pradesh State. “When Kashmir happened, when Ayodhya happened, no one questioned our citizenship. We were still first-class citizens. But how much longer do we have? How much further can this government push the envelope?”

Many Muslims fear that they could be stripped of their nationality. Along with the new law, the government also plans to expand a citizenship check nationwide. Those tests would force Indians to produce land deeds, birth certificates and other documents to prove their lineage in the country.

Panic recently set in when Mr. Abduzar and his father, Ahmad, realized that their names were misspelled on a school certificate and a passport. For years they had viewed the mistakes as nothing more than a nuisance, so commonplace that even bureaucrats dismissed the errors as the sloppy work of government clerks.

Now, such blunders could render them stateless. When the test was applied this fall in Assam State, about two million of its 33 million people failed, including a senior Indian military officer with a high-level government security clearance.

The new citizenship law would protect Hindus, Christians, Sikhs, Parsees, Buddhists and Jains who fail such checks. But Muslims, India’s second largest religious group, at 200 million, would be excluded.

India’s traditionally liberal-minded Supreme Court will hear challenges to the validity of the law in January. In the past, the court has thrown out many restrictive social policies, like a ban on gay sex, and has guarded privacy concerns. Critics say the citizenship law is unconstitutional because it discriminates based on religion, stripping away the state’s secular foundation.

Taken aback by the robust opposition, the government has tried to tamp down worries, insisting that Indian Muslims would not lose their nationality and that the law was aimed at providing a haven for persecuted religious minorities in neighboring countries. The citizenship test is necessary, the government says, to identify undocumented immigrants and ensure the country’s security.

“It is hypocritical for the government to be offering safety to religious minorities they say are persecuted, when they discriminate against their own, against Indian Muslims,” said Akhtarista Ansari, a 19-year-old university student in Delhi who is Muslim and was part of the protests this week.

Their criticism is rooted in the ideologies of Mr. Modi’s base.

Officials in his party and its powerful affiliates believe that minorities have been granted special protections at the expense of the country’s Hindus, who make up about 80 percent of the overall population of 1.3 billion. Many right-wing Hindus hold particular animosity for Muslims, as they were ruled for several centuries by the Mughal Muslim empire.

Sharad Sharma, a leader of Vishwa Hindu Parishad, an organization affiliated with the B.J.P. and classified by the Central Intelligence Agency as a Hindu militant group, said the days when the Indian government would appease the country’s minorities were over.

“Everyone living in India is a Hindu, including Muslims and Christians,” Mr. Sharma said, voicing a common right-wing refrain that all Indians were Hindus until they were forcefully converted.

“They have to be subservient to Hindus and Hinduism,” he added.

In this environment, conservative Hindus feel increasingly empowered.

When a Muslim was hired to teach Sanskrit at Banaras Hindu University, Hindu students protested, saying that it was improper for a Muslim to teach the primary liturgical language of Hinduism.

After another professor at the university, Shanti Lal Salvi, spoke in that instructor’s defense, he was attacked by students and had to flee the campus for his safety.

“There is a piousness everywhere, it is spreading and it is becoming very difficult to live in this atmosphere,” said Mr. Salvi, a Hindu. “This university was one considered a melting pot of ideas.”

“This kind of hatred now has an official sanction,” he said, “and it will only get stronger with every passing day.”

The wave of protests around India have left the government unprepared, and security forces have resorted to heavy-handed tactics to quell the demonstrations.

Hundreds have been detained. Opposition politicians and activists were arrested as they staged peaceful protests on Friday outside the house of Amit Shah, Mr. Modi’s right-hand man and the country’s powerful home minister, overseeing domestic security.

In an episode that was captured on video and disseminated widely on social media, five female students at Delhi’s Jamia Millia Islamia University rescued an unarmed male student the police were beating with wooden sticks last weekend.

While right-wing Hindus and governing party officials tried to paint the female students as radical Islamists, they conspicuously omitted that one was a Hindu. That student, Chandra Yadav, 20, studies Hindi literature and, like other secular Indians, also protested in opposition to the citizenship bill.

“This fight is not about Ram or Allah,” Ms. Yadav said, referring to a Hindu deity.

“This fight is for a state that is supposed to be for everyone, Hindu or Muslim,” she added. “As much as this country belongs to me, it belongs to Muslims.”

Jeffrey Gettleman and Suhasini Raj contributed reporting.

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Iraq’s top cleric calls for quick formation of government


BAGHDAD (AP) — Iraq’s top Shiite cleric called Friday for the speedy formation of a government and early elections as ongoing political wrangling caused Parliament to miss a deadline to name the next premier. That has sparked concerns of protracted political crisis and uncertainty.

Blast walls were erected by security forces on a bridge leading to the presidential palace in the heavily fortified Green Zone, the seat of Iraq’s government. The move came in anticipation of future demonstrations there as discontent over President Barham Saleh’s inability to name the next premier mounts among anti-government protesters.

Protesters currently occupy three bridges leading to and near the Green Zone — Jumhuriya, Sinak and Ahrar — in a standoff with security forces. The demonstrations engulfed Baghdad and southern Iraq on Oct. 1, when thousands took to the streets to protest government corruption, poor services and rising Iranian influence in state affairs. At least 450 protesters have died as security forces used live fire and tear gas to disperse crowds.

Pressure from the demonstrations led Prime Minister Adil Abdul-Mahdi to resign after Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, Iraq’s most powerful religious authority, withdrew support for his government.

Al-Sistani, in his weekly sermon delivered by a representative in the holy southern city of Najaf, called for political blocs to form the government quickly.

“We hope that there won’t be a long delay in the formation of the new government, and it must be an uncontroversial government that responds to the requirements of the current stage, and be able to gain back the state authority and calm down the situation,” Al-Sistani said.

The constitution requires Parliament’s largest bloc to name a candidate for the premiership within 15 days of its acceptance of Abdul-Mahdi’s resignation, which expired on Dec. 19. The deadline was extended until Dec. 22, two lawmakers said.

Political deadlock has so far marred the naming of the next premier and the identity of the largest parliamentary bloc, which is legally required to name the candidate.

Abdul-Mahdi’s nomination as prime minister was the product of a provisional alliance between parliament’s two main blocs — Sairoon, led by cleric Moqtada al-Sadr, and Fatah, which includes leaders associated with the paramilitary Popular Mobilization Units headed by Hadi al-Amiri.

In the May 2018 election, neither coalition won a commanding plurality that would have enabled it to name the premier alone. To avoid political crisis, Sairoon and Fatah forged a precarious union.

But now, that tenuous partnership is unraveling, with Sairoon insisting that the candidate be selected by the anti-government protesters on the street. The Fatah-led coalition is adamant that their preferred candidate take the helm.

“Sairoon will not go along with a candidate that is from the previous ministers and someone likely to be rejected by protesters,” said Sajad Jiyad, managing director of Bayan Center, an Iraqi think tank. Fatah’s coalition, meanwhile, “is intent on breaking the partnership with Sairoon and will insist on putting forward their candidate.”

In Tahrir Square, the hub of the protest movement, names of rumored candidates are rejected outright. At one point when Mohammed Shia al-Sudani, a former human rights minister under Nouri al-Maliki’s administration, was considered a top contender there was outcry in the square. Instead, protesters circulated their own lists of names for the premiership.

“This political system will never produce a candidate that will be acceptable to us,” said Zaidoun, a protester who only provided his first name.

Al-Sistani also said “the nearest and safest way to get out of the current crisis and avoid the unknown, chaos or internal fighting … is to return to the people by holding elections early, after legislating a fair law for it.”

Anti-government protesters are calling for snap elections and a reformed electoral law that would give them greater say in how lawmakers are elected. They consider the current draft being considered by Parliament to be unsatisfactory.

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International prosecutor preparing to open Palestinian probe


THE HAGUE, Netherlands (AP) — The prosecutor of the International Criminal Court took a major step Friday toward opening an investigation in the occupied Palestinian territories, asking judges exactly what territory a future investigation could cover.

The announcement ended years of preliminary investigations into alleged crimes by both Israeli forces and Palestinians and signaled that Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda is preparing to open a formal probe.

It drew swift condemnation from Israel, with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu calling it “a dark day for truth and justice.”

While Israel is not a member of the court and does not recognize its jurisdiction, Palestinians have been recognized as a member state and requested an investigation.

“I am satisfied that there is a reasonable basis to proceed with an investigation into the situation in Palestine,” Bensouda said in a statement.

She said she is “satisfied that … war crimes have been or are being committed in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, and the Gaza Strip.”

Bensouda said she has now asked judges to outline the geographic scope of an investigation.

“Specifically, I have sought confirmation that the ‘territory’ over which the Court may exercise its jurisdiction, and which I may subject to investigation, comprises the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, and Gaza.”

Netanyahu said Bensouda’s decision “has turned the International Criminal Court into a political tool to delegitimize the State of Israel. The prosecutor has completely ignored the legal arguments we presented to her.”

Categories
Sports

Houston Rockets Stax – Houston Chronicle


https://www.chron.com/sports/other-sports/article/Houston-Rockets-Stax-14921318.php

Published

9:05 am CST, Friday, December 20, 2019

AVG

3-Pnt.

Player
G
MIN
FGM-FGA
PCT
FGM-FGA
FTM-FTA
PCT
PTS
AVG
Harden
28
37.7
309-695
.445
140-387
319-363
.879
1077
38.5
Westbrook
25
35.0
217-510
.425
30-129
124-159
.780
588
23.5
Capela
24
33.4
153-235
.651
0-0
29-65
.446
335
14.0
Gordon
9
29.4
34-110
.309
21-74
9-14
.643
98
10.9
House
22
30.1
79-181
.436
46-118
32-42
.762
236
10.7
McLemore
28
23.5
97-228
.425
71-193
30-39
.769
295
10.5
Tucker
28
36.0
95-197
.482
54-131
23-30
.767
267
9.5
Rivers
26
24.0
78-191
.408
34-106
21-30
.700
211
8.1
Clemons
19
8.5
33-77
.429
24-62
3-4
.750
93
4.9
Clark
13
11.2
15-43
.349
11-36
6-7
.857
47
3.6
Hartenstein
9
11.4
11-16
.688
0-1
9-11
.818
31
3.4
Anderson
2
7.0
2-7
.286
1-5
0-0
.000
5
2.5
Sefolosha
22
10.1
16-48
.333
8-29
0-1
.000
40
1.8
Chandler
19
8.9
13-17
.765
0-0
5-9
.556
31
1.6
Frazier
0
0
0-0
.000
0-0
0-0
.000
0
0.0
Green
0
0
0-0
.000
0-0
0-0
.000
0
0.0
Nene
0
0
0-0
.000
0-0
0-0
.000
0
0.0
TEAM
28
241.8
1152-2555
.451
440-1271
610-774
.788
3354
119.8
OPPONENTS
28
241.8
1178-2581
.456
371-1027
476-630
.756
3203
114.4

___

REBOUND

REB

AST

Player
OFF
DEF
TOT
AVG.
AST
AVG.
PF
DQ
STL
TO
BLK
Harden
29
133
162
5.8
211
7.5
94
0
54
138
20
Westbrook
41
163
204
8.2
178
7.1
95
0
40
113
9
Capela
99
248
347
14.5
27
1.1
65
0
23
41
47
Gordon
3
14
17
1.9
7
.8
21
0
5
12
2
House
27
64
91
4.1
32
1.5
46
0
24
21
12
McLemore
9
57
66
2.4
29
1.0
54
0
19
21
7
Tucker
44
163
207
7.4
39
1.4
96
0
38
31
14
Rivers
17
52
69
2.7
43
1.7
52
0
12
15
6
Clemons
2
12
14
.7
6
.3
16
0
5
8
4
Clark
8
21
29
2.2
8
.6
15
0
1
1
6
Hartenstein
8
18
26
2.9
5
.6
17
0
3
6
4
Anderson
0
7
7
3.5
2
1.0
1
0
1
1
0
Sefolosha
12
36
48
2.2
15
.7
21
0
9
7
4
Chandler
21
32
53
2.8
6
.3
24
0
5
6
7
Frazier
0
0
0
.0
0
.0
0
0
0
0
0
Green
0
0
0
.0
0
.0
0
0
0
0
0
Nene
0
0
0
.0
0
.0
0
0
0
0
0
TEAM
320
1020
1340
47.9
608
21.7
617
0
239
430
142
OPPONENTS
301
986
1287
46.0
728
26.0
621
4
230
444
130

Categories
World

Stuck With an Ex-Husband’s Debt, a Journalist Fights for Divorced Women


BEIJING — For the first seven months after her divorce, Li Xiuping thought her former husband had disappeared from her life. Then came the phone call that turned Ms. Li, a journalist for a state-run newspaper in Beijing, into a dogged activist for the economic rights of Chinese women.

In that terse call, Ms. Li’s ex-husband told her that she had missed a court hearing initiated by creditors who were chasing the couple for unpaid loans — debt that Ms. Li said she didn’t know about. After a frantic trip to the courthouse, Ms. Li said she found out that her ex-husband had borrowed about $400,000.

The case, raising a tangle of questions about divorced women’s liability for their former husbands’ debts, pushed Ms. Li into a fight to change Chinese marriage laws. For three years, the button-down journalist has been lobbying lawmakers and judges in a relentless effort that has even alienated some former friends in the cause.

“This just isn’t right, I don’t want to see more lives ruined,” said Ms. Li, 49. “I don’t want to give up on this until we’ve gone as far as we can.”

Over the past two years, the global #MeToo movement has inspired Chinese women to speak up against sexual harassment. Ms. Li wants to extend the debate to women’s economic rights.

She and hundreds of other women, as well as some divorced men, say China’s law has unfairly entrapped them when courts ruled they were jointly liable for former spouses’ unpaid loans.

“I shouldn’t be dragged into uncontrollable risks because of a marriage,” she said in an interview in her apartment in northwest Beijing, which she has held onto during a running legal struggle. “This is not just to overturn the decisions in our own cases, but to alter the destiny of more Chinese women.”

Ms. Li and other women are now fighting what she calls the “final battle” to change how Chinese laws deal with post-divorce debt disputes. China’s legislature, the National People’s Congress, has been discussing amendments to marriage laws, and Ms. Li and many other women have petitioned lawmakers to demand that the debt issue be addressed.

Under Xi Jinping, the authoritarian Communist Party leader, China has silenced rights lawyers and human rights activists. But Ms. Li and others have avoided political confrontation and honed a more fluid style of activism, using WeChat, a popular social media platform, to mobilize, coordinate and share advice about handling messy divorces.

More women, and some men, have found themselves caught up in similar disputes. Divorce has become increasingly common in China, and as the middle class and private businesses have expanded, growing numbers of divorces involve debts that must be divided up, along with children, pets and homes.

China’s current marriage law dates to 1981, a time when divorces and loan disputes were much rarer. Though it has been amended over the years, it still leaves much unclear about how debt should be divided up.

In 2003, the nation’s top court, the Supreme People’s Court, tried to offer certainty by telling judges to presume that both spouses in a divorce shared liability for personal debts. That rule helped prevent the use of sham divorces to escape debts. But it left a burden on divorced spouses disputing debts to prove that a loan agreement had clearly excluded them from liability.

For Ms. Li and many other divorced women, that attempt at legal clarity has simply created more confusion about how to prove they had no responsibility for a debt.

“As long as a debt was acquired during marriage, the presumption was that it was shared,” said Jiang Yue, a law professor at Xiamen University in southeast China. A former husband or wife had to prove that a debt was not jointly held, she said. “But if they never knew about it to begin with, how could they assume the burden of proof?”

Ms. Li’s journey to activism began in 2014, after she and her husband, Li Xianghua, divorced. Their marriage had faltered while he was consumed with his automobile parts business and she worked as a journalist at the Farmers Daily, an official newspaper for agricultural news, she said.

After the divorce was finalized in 2014, Ms. Li looked forward to a quiet life as a “bookworm,” she said. Mr. Li could not be reached for comment. But a Beijing court judgment from 2016 about their debt dispute said that Mr. Li accused his former wife of paying for their living expenses from his company’s funds.

“Business income was used for the couple’s shared life,” he said, according to the court judgment. Ms. Li denied using her husband’s loans to pay for their living expenses.

Ms. Li was born in rural Anhui Province, where her parents were local officials, and during the 1980s studied journalism in Wuhan, a city in central China.

Back then, feminist ideas joined the intellectual ferment on campuses, including through a Chinese translation of Simone de Beauvoir’s “The Second Sex.” Fighting on the front lines for women’s rights seemed distant from her routine of filing stories on village administration, rural migrant workers and land policy for the Farmers Daily.

But as her former husband’s loans came due, Ms. Li became entangled in several court cases about her share of the debt. Her life became dominated by creditors showing up at her apartment and by visits to courts, to submit paperwork and beg for more time.

Her lowest point came in 2015, when she was detained for nine days after she accused a judge of confiscating documents from her. In the detention cell crowded with dozens of inmates, Ms. Li staged a hunger strike, drinking only bottles of sweetened tea, she said.

“This was absolutely ridiculous. They even didn’t notify my lawyer,” she said of her detention. “I wanted to fight for my rights after I got out.”

For Ms. Li, the Chinese internet offered a kind of salvation. While websites can be heavily censored in China, there is space for discussing social controversies. Browsing online in 2016, Ms. Li came across a group of women whose complaints sounded uncannily like hers: divorced and distraught after former husbands had left them buried under debt.

“Marriage is risky, be careful when you collect the marriage certificate,” read the online essay that caught Ms. Li’s eye on Weibo, a Chinese social media service that allows groups of users to share messages and links. “If you marry the wrong person,” it read, “this marriage will bury your life.”

As she explored, she found women recounting how creditors had swooped in demanding repayment for their ex-husbands’ debts. Sometimes the men had evaded debt collectors, leaving ex-wives to deal alone with repayment demands. Pursued in the courts, some women were blacklisted from travel, or their incomes were docked; some lost their homes to pay off debts.

In the course of her fight, Ms. Li said her biggest challenge was a personal one: fear of speaking out about a marriage gone wrong, and enduring the public attention that would bring.

“No one wants to tell other people that she met a bad guy,” she said. “In China’s public opinion environment, many people humiliate victims instead of perpetrators.”

Overcoming her shyness, Ms. Li became an increasingly determined organizer. She pressed other women to speak out, posting pictures of herself holding up a sign that called for changing the rules on debt in divorces. In 2017, she organized a survey that collected about 1,500 responses from people — nearly all women — who described their troubles with divorce and debt.

By then the loose online coalition had about had about 1,300 members, nearly all women, she said. They shared information about their cases, cheered each other as they fought in the courts, and began lobbying judges and lawmakers.

Not all the women took a liking to Ms. Li and her determined ways, and the group was weakened by personality clashes and rifts over how to press their demands.

“I think she can be too righteous,” said Xie Xiuying, an education professor who is a member of the group, said of Ms. Li. “She is totally upfront. If she doesn’t like something, she says it straight out, and sometimes even swears. So some people feel uncomfortable.”

Last year, though, the women scored a victory when the Supreme People’s Court offered a new instruction, narrowing down the circumstances when divorced spouses could be held liable for a former partner’s debts. That change was enough for some women, who have dropped out of the campaign.

But Ms. Li has pressed on, demanding that China inscribe a fairer deal for divorced spouses into a revised marriage law, rather than rely on the court’s instruction. On Friday, an official with the legislature said there had been nearly a quarter-million online comments about the marriage law, and that debt was one of the issues mentioned most often.

“In the course of all this, I’ve helped make progress in rule of law in the true sense,” Ms. Li said. “I’ve discovered more possibilities in life.”

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Kriechmayr wins fog-delayed super-G in Gardena after 4 hours


SELVA DI VAL GARDENA, Italy (AP) — Austrian skier Vincent Kriechmayr narrowly edged Norwegian rival Kjetil Jansrud to win a fog-affected World Cup super-G that lasted nearly four hours on Friday.

The shortened race had been interrupted for 45 minutes due to fog hanging over the middle of the Saslong course before Kriechmayr came down as the No. 7 starter and beat early leader Mauro Caviezel.

Kriechmayr then had to wait nearly three hours before the race was declared finished amid near darkness at 3:30 p.m. (1430 GMT) due to more fog.

In all, the event lasted 3 hours, 45 minutes before the results were taken with 48 of 64 skiers having raced.

It was worth the wait, though, as the result moved Kriechmayr atop both the overall and super-G standings.

In the overall, Kriechmayr moved 48 points ahead of previous leader Alexis Pinturault, who did not enter this race.

In the super-G, Kriechmayr moved 12 points ahead of Olympic champion and teammate Matthias Mayer, who finished 11th.

Kriechmayr trailed the early leaders at each of the first two checkpoints but was masterful through the technical Ciaslat section that features a series of small bumps and jumps that rattled many skiers off the racing line.

Jansrud came down later and built a lead of 0.32 seconds over Kriechmayr into the final checkpoint but was carrying so much speed that he had to slam on the brakes to clear one of the final gates and finished 0.05 behind.

Thomas Dressen of Germany, another late starter, finished third, 0.22 behind Kriechmayr.

It was the fifth World Cup victory of Kriechmayr’s career, to go with the two medals he won at last season’s world championships in Are, Sweden — silver in super-G and bronze in downhill.

It was also Kriechmayr’s third podium result this season after finishing third in a super-G in Lake Louise, Alberta; and second in a downhill in Beaver Creek, Colorado.

“I’m really happy and proud about my skiing today,” Kriechmayr said. “This is a legendary course and I really like it.”

A Norwegian coach set the course, which resembled more of a downhill than a super-G in certain sections.

Still, Jansrud couldn’t add to Norway’s record total of eight super-G wins in Val Gardena — including a victory last year by Aksel Lund Svindal, who is now retired.

“That’s a very, very good result for me right now,” said Jansrud, the 2014 Olympic super-G champion who had struggled this season. “Now I can take it a little easier with the nerves and get ready for tomorrow’s downhill and hopefully be fast then, too.”

Jansrud led downhill training on Thursday.

It was the sixth podium result of Dressen’s career.

Poor conditions forced organizers to lower the start, cutting off about 15 seconds of racing.

Caviezel finished fourth and Dominik Paris was fifth.

Steven Nyman, a three-time winner of the Val Gardena downhill, was the top American in 13th.

Nyman was fighting for a podium position until he had to make an acrobatic recovery to maintain control midway down — much like he did toward the end of his downhill training run a day earlier.

Italian veteran Christof Innerhofer crashed during his run as a forerunner.

A downhill is scheduled for Saturday on the Saslong, then the circuit moves over to nearby Alta Badia for a giant slalom and parallel giant slalom on Sunday and Monday, respectively.

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Suspect in Harry Dunn Crash Is Charged, British Prosecutors Say


LONDON — An American woman suspected of killing a teenage motorcyclist in central England in August by driving on the wrong side of the road has been charged with causing death by dangerous driving, British prosecutors said on Friday.

The woman, Anne Sacoolas, the wife of an American diplomat, left for the United States under diplomatic immunity soon after the crash, and the British foreign secretary, Dominic Raab, has urged her to return to Britain.

The British Crown Prosecution Service said on Friday that it had started proceedings, but that it was up to the Home Office to decide whether to formally seek Ms. Sacoolas’s extradition through diplomatic channels.

“Following the death of Harry Dunn in Northamptonshire, the Crown Prosecution Service has today authorized Northamptonshire Police to charge Anne Sacoolas with causing death by dangerous driving,” Janine Smith, chief crown prosecutor, said in a statement.

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Q&A: Anthony Daniels talks long ride as C-3PO in ‘Star Wars’


LOS ANGELES (AP) — Anthony Daniels went through a painful experience after not receiving the same amount of public recognition as other co-stars when the first “Star Wars” film released in 1977.

But in time, Daniels’ C-3PO character became one of the most popular in the franchise and he’s the only cast member to have appeared in all nine of the main “Star Wars” films. The British actor plays the soft-spoken “protocol droid” built by young Anakin Skywalker that is fluent in six million languages. His gold-plated character also appeared in the franchise’s the spin-off “Rogue One,” and had a cameo in “Ralph Breaks the Internet.”

C-3PO’s witty exchanges with fellow droid R2-D2 often served as comic relief, making the tandem fan favorites.

It’s been a long ride for the 73-year-old Daniels, who believes his appearance in “The Rise of Skywalker,” which opens in theaters Friday, will likely be his last film appearance as C-3PO. He highlights his “Star Wars” experiences in his new memoir “I Am C-3PO: The Inside Story,” which released in late October.

In a recent interview, Daniels spoke with The Associated Press about playing C-3PO and reflects on some of the best memories in the past 42 years in the iconic franchise.

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AP: What has it been like to film in all nine films?

Daniels: It’s been a ton of work, and a ton of employment, which is great. As an actor, you’re always looking for the next job. And often that next job for me has been something to do with “Star Wars.” The friendship and companionship of being C-3PO has been quite a gift.

AP: Are you surprised “Star Wars” made it this far?

Daniels: At the end of “A New Hope,” the original film, I thought that was it. Twelve weeks of weird and difficult work. Not entirely wonderful. I thought that was it. Then they came and said “Let’s make another one, then another.” … So I’ve been swept along by forces beyond my control. But finally, it is ending.

AP: Is “A New Hope” your favorite film compared to the rest?

Daniels: Yes, because I understood it. The story was simple enough that I got it. It got a bit complicated after that. It was an innocent film out of nowhere.

AP: It was your favorite film, but you struggled with being overlooked after “Star Wars’” release as well, right?

Daniels: It was difficult not being associated with the film when it first came out. That was a painful experience that lasted quite a while, but then changed over the course in time. It brings me here today with my name on the poster. Only parents care about that sort of thing.

AP: What has been your most memorable experience?

Daniels: In the desert on the first episode. It was absolutely riveting. It had such an impact. Seeing the effect of people looking at me in the costume then seeing their reactions. You are the center of attention. They can’t see you, but you’re absorbing the energy. That was pretty intense. That stays with me.

AP: When you put on your costume, what goes through your mind?

Daniels: Here we go again. Why am I doing this? And then, adrenaline is a great thing when somebody on set says “action.” Suddenly, your professional skills take over. The adrenaline gently sets in and you put up with stuff. You make it work as a professional actor.

AP: What does the character, C-3PO, mean to you?

Daniels: He’s kind of my friend, my companion. He’s somebody I know quite well. I want to be with him all the time. I’m proud to know him.

AP: What was it like for you not having Carrie Fisher around during filming “The Rise of Skywalker?”

Daniels: It was little wistful. But she is so there in all these films. You sort of forget that she’s died, because she’s just there. That’s the magic of the media. Nobody is really gone anymore. You may not be able to physically touch them. But they are there. There are fond memories.

AP: What mark has your character and “Star Wars” left?

Daniels: It’s so big that I kind of don’t get it yet. I need to be away from it for a while. Maybe I need to talk to more fans. So many people say “Thank you for my childhood.” We have given people a lot of stuff. They have given back with all their enthusiasm and affection.

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Follow AP Entertainment Writer Jonathan Landrum Jr. on Twitter: http://twitter.com/MrLandrum31