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US fires 32 embassy workers over alleged porn sharing

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The US embassy in Cambodia has fired 32 people after they were allegedly caught sharing pornographic material in a non-official chat group, several sources familiar with the matter said on Friday.

Four sources told Reuters that pornographic videos and photographs, including some featuring people under the age of 18, were shared in a Facebook Messenger chat group.

Some of the images were seen by the wife of an embassy worker who reported the incident to an official at the embassy.

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The matter was then forwarded to the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the sources said.

“They had their identification cards taken and some of their phones checked,” a former U.S. embassy staff member told Reuters on condition of anonymity.

He said the 32 embassy workers included Cambodians and Cambodian-Americans. Many were guards and some were clerical staff.

They said there were no diplomats among them.

Two of the sources, both of whom work at the embassy, confirmed the dismissals.

The dismissals come at a time of tension between Cambodia and the United States over U.S. criticism of a crackdown on dissent by long-serving Prime Minister Hun Sen, and his anger over what he says have been US efforts to undermine his rule.

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Source:’Reuters”

24 Hours Across Africa

Frontline protesters make case for violence in Hong Kong protests

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Reuters – Pun sees himself as a peaceful, middle-class Hong Kong student. Yet since the beginning of June, he has been building barricades and throwing bricks at police, risking his own liberty to fight, as he sees it, for the city’s freedoms.

In one of the world’s safest cities, the idea of violence as a legitimate form of political expression – hand-in-hand with peaceful protest – is becoming increasingly mainstream in the evolving tactics of a decentralized pro-democracy movement that has disrupted Chinese-ruled Hong Kong for 11 weeks.

“I know violence cannot fight violence, but sometimes aggression is needed to attract the attention of the government and others,” 22-year-old Pun said last week, speaking at the city’s airport after overnight clashes with police.

“I have thrown rocks, I have acted as a shield with umbrellas for others, I have been helping to build barricades, to bring supplies, to take injured people to a safe zone. I have also been hit by police with batons. We’re all slowly getting used to this. We have to.”

Protests in the former British colony erupted in early June over a now-suspended bill that would have allowed criminal suspects to be extradited to mainland China for trial.

But the unrest has been fueled by broader worries about what many say has been an erosion of freedoms guaranteed under the “one country, two systems” formula put in place when Hong Kong returned to China in 1997.

Unlike the Umbrella movement in 2014, when a largely peaceful 79-day occupation of Hong Kong’s financial area failed to achieve its aim of universal suffrage, a more confrontational stance from some of the protesters was evident from the start.

They came equipped with helmets, masks and goggles, and well-studied plans for supplying the protest frontlines with gear and mitigating the effects of tear gas.

And it seemed to yield some results. Within days, Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam, while not formally withdrawing the extradition bill, as protesters demanded, suspended the measure and declared it “dead”, a word she repeated on Tuesday.

Emboldened, the protest movement has since morphed into a broader, increasingly creative and sophisticated push for greater democracy, posing the biggest political challenge yet for Chinese President Xi Jinping.

Protesters escalated their aggressiveness, playing cat-and-mouse with the police all over the territory. While a giant march on Sunday was peaceful, activists have not ruled out further violence.

“We learned a lot from our mistakes in the Umbrella revolution,” said Pun, wearing a new set of clothes after ditching in an airport washroom the all-black protest attire he had worn the night before.

“Definitely more people accept there will be some violence now. They may not like it, they may not want to be a part of it, but they don’t condemn us. We are joined together as a force.”

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24 Hours Across Africa

Spider-Man and Tom Holland: Sony ‘disappointed’ over Disney split

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Marvel’s superhero films could lose their most famous character after Sony confirmed Tuesday that talks over its deal to share Spider-Man with the Disney-owned studio have broken down.

The Marvel movies have together grossed $22 billion at the global box office, and British actor Tom Holland’s Spider-Man has become an increasingly central figure in the most lucrative franchise in film history, AFP reported.

But while the teen web-slinger has for decades been the crown jewel of the Marvel comic book empire on which the films are based,

Sony owns the character’s movie rights. He only began appearing in Disney-owned Marvel’s “cinematic universe” after the Hollywood giants stuck an almost-unprecedented, and still highly secretive, 2015 deal to co-produce and split profits across the films.

A key aspect of that partnership has now broken down.

Sony confirmed that Marvel Studios boss Kevin Feige ― widely credited with the phenomenal boom in comic book movies of the past decade ― will no longer produce Spider-Man films, with a spokesman adding the studio was “disappointed.” “We hope this might change in the future,

but understand that the many new responsibilities that Disney has given him… do not allow time for him to work on IP (intellectual property) they do not own,” the Sony spokesman said in a statement sent to AFP.

The separation makes it “almost certain” that the character Spider-Man will be absent from crossover appearances in future Marvel films, according to Hollywood Reporter journalist Graeme McMillan.

Multiple Hollywood media outlets reported earlier Tuesday that Disney and Sony had failed to agree on financial terms for future Spider-Man films.

According to Deadline, which broke the news, Disney had wanted to significantly increase its financial stake in new Spider-Man movies, while Sony refused to alter existing terms.

Sony said the reports “mischaracterised recent discussions,” but thanked Feige for “the path he has helped put us on, which we will continue.” In financial terms, Spider-Man is one of the most successful superheroes in movie history.

Holland’s iteration of Spider-Man has delivered box office gold — he has appeared in a total of five Marvel Studios and Sony films since the collaboration deal, which collectively grossed almost $8 billion worldwide.

These included Marvel’s “Avengers: Endgame,” the highest-grossing movie of all time.

At Comic-Con last month, Marvel Studios set out a timeline of films and television shows scheduled for the next two years including new outings for popular characters Thor, Black Widow, Doctor Strange and Loki ― but none featuring Spider-Man.

Feige is also expected to be busy overseeing new Marvel franchises acquired by Disney in its purchase of 21st Century Fox, which includes the popular “X-Men”.

Sony last year produced an Oscar-winning Spider-Man animation separate from Marvel Studios’ domain, as well as a standalone film centred on popular Spider-Man villain Venom.

Disney did not immediately respond to request

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