While You Were Sleeping: 5 stories you might have missed, May 22

US warns China against ‘highly destabilising’ Hong Kong move

The United States on Thursday urged China to respect Hong Kong’s autonomy, warning that its proposed national security law for the city would be “highly destabilising” and face global opposition.

“Any effort to impose national security legislation that does not reflect the will of the people of Hong Kong would be highly destabilising, and would be met with strong condemnation from the United States and the international community,” State Department spokeswoman Morgan Ortagus said.

She said that China’s statements and the proposed legislation “undermine” China’s promises it made before regaining control of the financial hub from Britain in 1997.

President Donald Trump earlier on Thursday also promised a response when told of the move on Hong Kong. “I don’t know what it is, because nobody knows yet. If it happens, we’ll address that issue very strongly,” Trump said.


Trump to withdraw from ‘open skies’ arms control treaty

President Donald Trump has decided to withdraw from the Open Skies treaty, an arms-control pact designed to promote transparency between US and Russia, claiming Russian violations.

“Russia didn’t adhere to the treaty,” Trump told reporters at the White House on Thursday. “Until they adhere, we’ll pull out.”

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said the United States will officially inform Russia on Friday that the US plans to exit the 35-country agreement, which gives nations permission to traverse each other’s airspace to collect information on military activities.


Three women crushed to death in Sri Lanka stampede for $11 handout

Three women were trampled to death during a stampede for an US$8 (S$11) cash handout in Colombo on Thursday, amid growing desperation among Sri Lankans struggling to make ends meet during a coronavirus lockdown that has smashed the economy.

Some 1,000 people queued outside a businessman’s warehouse for his annual handout during the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan, local member of parliament Mujibur Rahman said.

There was a rush for the 1,500-rupee gift – about the same amount as a labourer’s daily wage – when the gates opened, he said.


EU air safety agency urges masks, social distancing for flights

The EU’s air safety agency EASA is recommending airlines and airports impose measures such as masks and social distancing to limit the risk of coronavirus for passengers.

The guidelines aim to be “pragmatic” while emphasising measures they want to see taken.

As well as face masks and physical distancing, frequent hand hygiene and reassuring the flying public that “filtered air on airplanes is safer and cleaner than (the air that) many of us breathe on the ground” are important, EASA said in a statement.


‘I had no choice’: Sex for rent rises with coronavirus poverty

A growing number of landlords are asking tenants for sex in exchange for housing as coronavirus lockdowns and job cuts have left many struggling to pay their rent, housing experts said.

A survey by the National Fair Housing Alliance (NFHA) of more than 100 fair housing groups combating discrimination across the United States found that 13 per cent had seen an increase in sexual harassment complaints during the coronavirus pandemic.

“If I did not have sex with him, he was going to put me out,” one woman facing eviction by her property manager told the NFHA in an podcast on their website. “As a single mum, I had no choice. I didn’t want to lose my housing.”


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