London’s landmark St Paul’s Cathedral closed its doors on Friday because of hazards posed by hundreds of protesters encamped in front of it in a demonstration inspired by the Occupy Wall Street movement.
Dean Graeme Knowles, a senior cleric, wrote an open letter to protesters asking them to leave the square peacefully, which they have occupied since Saturday last week after initially targeting the nearby London Stock Exchange.
“We have done this with a very heavy heart, but it is simply not possible to fulfill our day to day obligations to worshipers, visitors and pilgrims in current circumstances,” Knowles said in a statement.
Fire and health hazards posed by the camp — which has been steadily growing through the week — make it impossible for the cathedral, a popular tourist attraction, to legally remain open, he added.
In response, protesters issued a statement saying they had made every effort to facilitate the cathedral’s concerns and asked for clarification on what more they could do.
“We will continue,” protester Ronan McNern said. “The fight has got to go on.”
Camp organizers called an emergency assembly to discuss the future of the demonstration.
What had started as a few dozen tents soon grew to a self-styled city — with its own university, library, canteen and toilets — governed by a burgeoning bureaucracy.
The colorful camp, on paved stones in front of the sweeping cathedral steps, puzzled tourists visiting the 17th-century landmark, whose dome is a familiar part of the London skyline.
“Church liaison officers” were elected to mediate between the camp and the cathedral, rearranging tents into orderly lines and clearing a path to its fire exit in response to church concerns.
The church’s support had been a decisive factor from the start of the protest.
The camp was initially spared from clearance when church authorities told police officers to back off and allowed the protest to remain for its first night.
That decision — and a sympathetic sermon by the Reverend Giles Fraser at services attended by protesters on Saturday last week — raised spirits in the camp, protester Don Court said.
“When we heard that the reverend had given us permission to stay, and indeed that he preferred to have protesters on the steps than the police, it was a huge turning point,” he said earlier this week.
However, church officials appeared to grow uneasy about the camp as the week wore on.
In its open letter asking the protesters to decamp, Knowles praised the peaceful nature of the protest.
“Many people around the world, including many Christians, identify with the injustices and inequalities which you believe our financial systems perpetuate and support,” the letter read.
Since her personal telephone number was posted online, Hong Kong democracy advocate and Hong Kong Confederation of Trade Unions chairperson Carol Ng has received menacing calls from strangers and been bombarded with messages calling her a “cockroach.” She is not alone. A sophisticated and shady Web site called HK Leaks has ramped up its “doxxing” — where people’s personal details are published online — of Hong Kong democracy advocates, targeting those it says have broken Hong Kong’s National Security Law. Promoted by groups linked to the Chinese Chinese Communist Party and hosted on Russia-based servers, HK Leaks has become the most prominent “doxxing”
A Malaysian student whose cellphone was stolen while he was sleeping has tracked down the culprit: a monkey who took photo and video selfies with the device before abandoning it. Zackrydz Rodzi, 20, on Wednesday said that his mobile phone was missing from his bedroom when he woke up on Saturday. He found the phone’s casing under his bed, but there was no sign of robbery in his house in Johor state. JUNGLE When his father saw a monkey the next day, he searched in the jungle behind his house. Using his brother’s cellphone to call his own device, he found it covered
‘CONFESSED’: A court in Beijing said that former CCP member Ren Zhiqiang abused his power at a state firm and embezzled almost US$7.14 million of public funds A Chinese tycoon who called Chinese President Xi Jinping (習近平) a clown and criticized his handling of the COVID-19 pandemic was yesterday jailed for 18 years for corruption, bribery and embezzlement of public funds. Ren Zhiqiang (任志強) — once among the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) inner circle — disappeared from the public eye in March, shortly after penning an essay that lambasted Xi’s pandemic response. His outspokenness had earned the former chairman of state-owned property developer Huayuan Group the nickname “Big Cannon.” Yesterday’s verdict said that Ren embezzled almost 50 million yuan (US$7.4 million) of public funds and accepted bribes worth 1.25 million
Australia is notorious for its venomous spiders, snakes and sea creatures, but researchers have now identified “scorpion-like” toxins secreted by a tree that can cause excruciating pain for weeks. Split-second contact with the dendrocnide tree, a rainforest nettle known by its Aboriginal name gympie-gympie, delivers a sting far more potent than similar plants found in the US or Europe. A team of Australian scientists said that they now better understand why the gympie-gympie’s sting haunts those unlucky enough to brush up against its leaves. Victims report an initial sting that “feels like fire at first, then subsides over hours to a pain reminiscent