A baseless US conspiracy, Joshua Wong among multiple Hong Kong pro-democracy candidates disqualified from the upcoming election, Belarus says it’s arrested Russian mercenaries

A baseless US conspiracy theory found a foothold in Europe. New research shows how : London (CNN)A baseless claim about a child sex-trafficking ring, a Washington, DC pizzeria, and Hillary Clinton has been passed around among conspiracy theorists for more than three years. No evidence has emerged to support any part of the story. But last month, British pop star Robbie Williams used his voice to argue that the claims deserved more attention. “Yes there was no basement in the particular pizza place, that is not the debunking that I want as a civilian, as a human that is going: ‘Hey, this bit, this bit is really f—king weird,'” he asked in a video clip, which has been viewed on Twitter more than half a million times. Williams’ representatives declined to comment to CNN.
Joshua Wong among multiple Hong Kong pro-democracy candidates disqualified from upcoming election : Hong Kong (CNN)Multiple Hong Kong pro-democracy candidates have been barred from standing in upcoming legislative elections, amid reports the government may postpone the polls until next year over the coronavirus. On Twitter, Wong accused the Chinese government of showing a “total disregard for the will of (Hong Kongers)” and trampling on “the city’s last pillar of vanishing autonomy.”
Belarus says it’s arrested Russian mercenaries, as rift grows between strongmen Putin and Lukashenko : Moscow (CNN)Authorities in Belarus have announced the arrest of 33 Russian mercenaries on suspicion of terrorism, accused of trying “to destabilize” the country ahead of August’s presidential election, the state-run news agency Belta reported. Authorities have opened a criminal investigation against the men on suspicion of terrorism, according to Belarus’s Security Council chief, Andrey Ravkov. They face up to 20 years in prison if convicted.
Japan finally announced a fee for plastic bags. Will that stop its obsession with plastic? : Tokyo (CNN)Single bananas. Hard boiled eggs. Chocolate chip cookies. In convenience stores across Japan these items all have something in common: they are routinely sold tightly swaddled in plastic wrapping. Retailers believe that if items aren’t wrapped in plastic it’s hard to guarantee food safety standards in the supply chain, according to a spokesperson for Lawson, a nationwide chain of convenience stores.
Exclusive: Russia says foreign inquiries about its potential fast-track Covid-19 vaccine are pouring in. But questions abound : Moscow (CNN)Russia intends to be the first in the world to approve a coronavirus vaccine, in less than two weeks, CNN has learned. And despite concerns about its safety, effectiveness and over whether the country has cut essential corners in development, interest in the vaccine has already been expressed by at least 20 countries and some US companies, Russian officials say. “It’s a Sputnik moment,” said Kirill Dmitriev, head of Russia’s sovereign wealth fund, which is financing Russian vaccine research, referring to the successful 1957 launch of the world’s first satellite by the Soviet Union.
Ex-Marine jailed for 9 years by Russian court. US envoy says trial was ‘theater of the absurd’ : (CNN)A Moscow court sentenced former U.S. Marine Trevor Reed to nine years in prison Thursday for endangering “life and health” of Russian police officers in an altercation, state-run news agency TASS reported — a sentence that drew swift condemnation from the top US diplomat in Russia. Police told state-run news agency RIA-Novosti that Reed was involved in an altercation with two women and a police unit that arrived at the scene following complaints of a disturbance and took him to a police station. Police alleged Reed resisted the arrest, attacked the driver, hit another policeman, caused the car to swerve by grabbing the wheel and created a hazardous situation on the road, RIA stated.
Three sisters killed their father. Despite a history of abuse, they’re facing murder charges : Moscow (CNN)Mikhail Khachaturyan’s body was found on a staircase in a Moscow apartment block in July 2018, with dozens of knife wounds to his chest and neck. That was the night that the Khachaturyan sisters — Krestina, 19, Angelina, 18, and Maria, 17 — decided to kill their father. They attacked him with a hammer, a knife, and the same can of pepper spray he had turned on them earlier.
US cities are losing 36 million trees a year. Here’s why it matters and how you can stop it : (CNN)If you’re looking for a reason to care about tree loss, this summer’s record-breaking heat waves might be it. Trees can lower summer daytime temperatures by as much as 10 degrees Fahrenheit, according to a recent study. If we continue on this path, “cities will become warmer, more polluted and generally more unhealthy for inhabitants,” said David Nowak, a senior US Forest Service scientist and co-author of the study.
Miami’s Little Haiti wasn’t a target for developers. Until the seas started to rise. : Miami (CNN)In a city where “sunny day floods” increased 400% in a decade, rising seas are changing the old real estate mantra of “location, location, location.” And long before melted ice caps wash over Ocean Drive, one of America’s most vulnerable big cities is becoming a test case for the modern problem of climate gentrification.
How rich people could help save the planet from climate change : (CNN)Rich people don’t just have bigger bank balances and more lavish lifestyles than the rest of us — they also have bigger carbon footprints. Jetting around, buying luxury goods, keeping mansions warm and driving supercars — they all have a carbon footprint.
Inside Brazil’s cult of hydroxychloroquine : Brasilia, Brazil (CNN)The police cavalry horses pranced through red dust towards an open grave nobody expected would be dug for Sgt. Jonas Mendonça. The 58-year-old military policeman was slightly overweight but otherwise healthy, his family says, when he got mild Covid-19 symptoms. Four days later, a fierce fever hit and he was hospitalized. “In the last two days [the doctors] were very hopeful,” said his daughter Thais Saturnino Mendonça. “The fever was over. The pulmonary and respiratory condition was evolving. It was good.”
Japan’s air force faces a ‘relentless’ burden, imposed by China : Tokyo (CNN)Japanese fighter pilot Lt. Col. Takamichi Shirota says his country is under increasing pressure from the air. Analysts say it’s a pressure faced by few other nations. It happened to Japan’s Air Self Defense Force (JASDF) 947 times in the last fiscal year ending in March. The culprit in most of those cases, warplanes from China’s People’s Liberation Army Air Force (PLAAF).
Intermittent fasting and a new passion helped him lose 95 pounds : (CNN)In May 2018, Jared Sklar’s wake-up call was waiting for him when he got home from work. He opened the fridge and saw four different pizza boxes from four different restaurants. At 285 pounds (129 kilograms), he would sit on the couch and watch TV, with no energy left after conquering the work day. Late-night snacks included popcorn and ice cream. The 27-year-old, who works in sales for Corporate Strategies in Woodland Hills, California, knew something had to change.
Samoan chief in New Zealand sentenced to 11 years in jail for slavery but experts say he is just the tip of the iceberg : (CNN)They thought they were going to New Zealand to make better lives for their families. Instead, when they arrived in New Zealand, the 13 victims — who cannot be named due to a court suppression order — were confronted with an entirely different situation, legal records show.
India is blocking more apps in the wake of the TikTok ban : Hong Kong/New Delhi (CNN Business)India is banning dozens more apps and reportedly reviewing hundreds of others from well-known Chinese companies, as tensions between the world’s most populous countries continue to rise. Caught up in the initial ban were several prominent Chinese apps, including the wildly popular video sharing app TikTok. App clones or variants would likely include lighter versions designed for entry-level smartphones with limited memory.
16 years old and stuck in solitary confinement 23 hours a day because of coronavirus : (CNN)John spent his 16th birthday the same way he’s spent every day during the UK’s Covid-19 lockdown — alone in a cell for 23 hours, with no visits, no internet and few phone calls. He is one of hundreds of children locked up in UK prisons, the forgotten casualties of Covid-19. In the UK, teens and children aged 18 and younger are held in what the government refers to as secure children’s homes, secure training centers and young offender institutions. The lawyers we spoke to universally refer to such institutions as prisons.
Wheelchair basketball player considers leg amputation after rule change : (CNN)British wheelchair basketball athlete George Bates has said he is considering having his leg amputated after a rule change left him ineligible to play for Great Britain. He has represented GB at the World and European Championships, helping Team GB secure gold and silver medals.
Unfortunately for Boris Johnson, much of Europe has moved on from Brexit : London (CNN)Europe is braced for its second wave of coronavirus, as infection rates rise in numerous countries, including Spain, France and Germany. This has created a uniquely difficult problem for Boris Johnson, the UK Prime Minister, who faces the harrowing prospect of two unprecedented crises taking hold simultaneously before the end of 2020.
Serial runaway bear nicknamed ‘Papillon’ is on the loose again in Italy : (CNN)A brown bear nicknamed “Papillon” after displaying an impressive talent for escaping is being sought by rangers in Italy after fleeing from his electrified pen. Nail-biting video shows brown bear following child on family hike
India gets Rafale fighter jets from France, boosting its air force : Dehli, India (CNN)Five French-made jet fighters arrived in India on Wednesday, the first of 36 New Dehli ordered as it moves to upgrade its air force amid a spike in tensions with China.  
How the Hope Mars mission will make history in the UAE : CNN’s series often carry sponsorship originating from the countries and regions we profile. However, CNN retains full editorial control over all of its reports. Our sponsorship policy. Three countries — the UAE, US and China — are embarking on missions this summer, taking advantage of the biennial window when Earth and Mars are closest together.
Coronavirus lockdowns are fueling an ‘explosion’ of anti-Semitism online : London (CNN)Online anti-Semitic hate incidents in the United Kingdom are on the rise, with conspiracy theories accusing Jews of creating and spreading Covid-19 circulating online, a report published Thursday has warned. Although the figures show a 13% fall from the 911 incidents recorded in the first half of 2019, it is the third-highest number of incidents the CST — which has been recording anti-Semitic incidents since 1984 — has ever recorded in the January to June period of any year, the charity said.
Alzheimer’s blood test in your doctor’s office closer to reality, studies say : (CNN)A simple blood test to diagnose Alzheimer’s disease — on the wish list of many doctors, researchers and patients — may be closer to becoming a reality, according to the results of studies presented virtually this week during the Alzheimer’s Association International Conference 2020. The test could also differentiate between different types of cognitive dementia and even flag early signs of Alzheimer’s. While more research is required and such a test is likely still years away from being available, experts say the results are encouraging.
Amazon trounces earnings estimates despite spending $4 billion on coronavirus measures : New York (CNN Business)Amazon’s revenue during the three months ended in June blew away Wall Street projections, as the company continued to experience a surge in demand due to the coronavirus pandemic. Amazon (AMZN) stock jumped more than 4% in after-hours trading Thursday.
Google parent Alphabet posts first revenue decline in company history : New York (CNN Business)Google’s parent company Alphabet posted the first revenue decline in its history during the three months ended in June, a sign of just how much the global pandemic and economic downturn is straining its core advertising business. Alphabet (GOOGL) posted net income just shy of $7 billion, which also beat analysts’ projections. Shares were essentially flat in after-hours trading following the release.
Facebook stock jumps 7% as pandemic helps make its audience even bigger : New York (CNN Business)The global pandemic is proving to be a boon for Facebook’s user numbers — at least for now. With more eyeballs, Facebook also saw revenue grow 11% to nearly $18.7 billion for the second quarter, even as the broader economy contracted.
Lyft plans to offer car rentals across much of US : Washington, DC (CNN)Lyft is expanding its car rental service, which it says will simplify the rental process for customers and aid its own path to profitability. The car rentals are the latest example of Lyft striving to make its app a one-stop shop for transportation services, though it comes as the car rental sector overall has been hit hard by the Covid-19 pandemic. One of the largest American car rental companies, Hertz, filed for bankruptcy on May 25.
This is the only city in America where unemployment is actually down : New York (CNN Business)The small city of Owensboro, Kentucky, has been extremely lucky in this recession. While the rest of America grapples with historically high unemployment, Owensboro’s job market has emerged relatively unscathed. “We’ve managed it as a community,” Owensboro Mayor Tom Watson told CNN Business on Wednesday.
Permanent WFH: Easier said than done : Editor’s Note: A version of this story appeared in CNN’s Work Transformed newsletter. To get it in your inbox, sign up for free, here. But going remote hasn’t always worked out.
Dow and S&P 500 sink after economic data deluge : New York (CNN Business)The Dow and the S&P 500 ended in the red on Thursday. Investors are still wrapping their heads around the morning’s economic data including the GDP report, which finally put a number on just how badly the economy fared during the spring lockdown, as well as an increase in weekly jobless claims. At its low point, the Dow dropped nearly 550 points.
US economy posts its worst drop on record : New York (CNN Business)The US economy contracted at a 32.9% annual rate from April through June, its worst drop on record, the Bureau of Economic Analysis said Thursday. A recession is commonly defined as two consecutive quarters of declining gross domestic product — the broadest measure of the economy. Between January and March, GDP declined by an annualized rate of 5%.
The argument for cutting the $600 unemployment benefit doesn’t add up : Michael Linden is the executive director of the Groundwork Collaborative and a fellow at the Roosevelt Institute. The opinions expressed in this commentary are his own. Earlier this week, Senate Republicans unveiled their stimulus proposal to help Americans who continue to suffer from the economic effects of the coronavirus pandemic. Included in the $1 trillion package is a proposal to cut the $600 weekly boost to unemployment insurance benefits, which is about to expire, to $200 per week for the next two months. Then, beginning in October, the unemployed would receive a payment that would replace 70% of their lost wages when combined with their state benefit. Those payments would continue through the end of the year.
Stelter: The threat to democracy we all should have seen coming : New York (CNN Business)When I read President Trump’s Thursday morning tweet floating a “delay” of the presidential election, I thought back to the first weekend of his presidency. But the President’s tweet was yet another display of democratic backsliding — a term used in political science to describe the erosion of institutions that sustain democracy.
California Pizza Kitchen files for bankruptcy : New York (CNN Business)California Pizza Kitchen is the latest fast casual chain to file for bankruptcy as the pandemic and its debt burden hampers its operations. “The unprecedented impact of Covid-19 on our operations certainly created additional challenges, but this agreement from our lenders demonstrates their commitment to CPK’s viability as an ongoing business,” CEO Jim Hyatt said in a release.
Coca-Cola is launching a Topo Chico hard seltzer : New York (CNN)Coca-Cola is launching a hard seltzer under the cult-favorite brand Topo Chico. The drink will initially be available in select cities in Latin America. “The Coca-Cola Company is committed to exploring new products in dynamic beverage categories, including hard seltzer,” a company press release stated.

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