Brad is the editor overseeing contributed content at ReadWrite.com. He previously worked as an editor at PayPal and Crunchbase. You can reach him at brad at readwrite.com. Brad AndersonEditor In Chief at ReadWrite 8 Unusual Ideas for a Dentistry Business Related Posts How Myia Health’s Partnership with Mercy Virtua… Can IoT Bridge The Gaps In Modern Mental Health… FDA Extends Collaboration on Living Heart Proje… By all accounts, nature is good for you. But nature can also be bad for you: In some parts of the world, pollution levels are actually getting worse, despite everything we know about chemicals, car exhaust, and reducing our carbon footprint. In fact, more than 2,100 cities worldwide exceed recommended pollution levels, accelerating climate change.And air quality isn’t the only concern. Pesticides are still used by farmers worldwide to grow enough food for the expanding population, even though combined pesticide use has been proven to be more dangerous to humans. Pesticides are also known to hurt bees and their pollination processes, moving the EU to completely ban pesticides harming bees, a now-endangered species in the U.S. And livestock and the production of meat have an outsized influence on our environment, from water pollution to antibiotic intake.Nature is good for us, but what we’ve done to it has made it anything but. Technology, however, is looking for ways to undo — or limit — the damage we’ve inflicted upon our environment.Improving Air QualityWhile the outdoors is polluted, our indoor areas are at risk, too. Clairy, a company providing natural air purifiers fueled by plants, uses technology to reduce indoor pollution. The brand’s 2016 Kickstarter campaign attracted nearly 1,300 backers and more than $275,000 to fund the creation of its smart flowerpot air purifiers, which house tech units that combine with a fan to direct air from inside a building into the plant’s roots for detox. The purifier’s sensors track the quality of the building’s air, as well as its temperature and humidity levels, and send updates to the owner via its Wi-Fi module.The company’s newest campaign aims to fund NATEDE, a smarter version of the air purifier. It uses advanced sensors and a photocatalytic filter to track air quality and eliminate waste and cost — the filter doesn’t need to be replaced. Testing has shown this smart air purifier eliminates 99 percent of bacteria, viruses, and fine particles, as well as 93 percent of volatile organic compounds. Like its predecessor, it uses an app to keep homeowners informed, and it can also connect to other smart devices. It’s already attracted more than 2,500 backers and more than half a million dollars.“Recent studies have shown that indoor pollution is up to five times higher than outdoor pollution and we spend 90 percent of our time indoors,” the brand explains. “The World Health Organization has even listed indoor pollution as one of the most dangerous threats to our health.”Making Food HealthierTo reduce our reliance on animals — but still feed the world population — some companies are turning to engineered foods. Research institute New Harvest is helping universities create dairy products like milk and eggs, as well as meat, by using protein and fat molecules in place of living cells and replicating biological processes.Using genetically altered yeast, containing the DNA for casein, and cultured meat — which utilizes animal cells and multiplies them in petri dishes in utero — scientists can combine them with other nutrients and change their properties. Those cells can then be cooked and eaten like meat from an animal.This lab-driven method of farming is less resource-intensive than livestock farming, and it allows researchers to adjust the contents of the food to make it healthier. For example, New Harvest has made lactose-free milk for the lactose-intolerant, as well as meats with fewer saturated fats and eggs without cholesterol. Not only can engineered food reduce our impact on the land, but it can also help us eat healthier.Keeping Tech’s Destruction MinimalIt may sound ironic, but technology is also being used to reduce the damage tech inflicts on the environment. In an era when digital devices rule — 95 percent of Americans own mobile phones, approximately 75 percent own a personal computer, and nearly half have a tablet — the potential for environmental destruction is high. While we use the internet to do nearly everything these days, we still need devices to do that — and we quickly consider them obsolete and move on to the next one.Planned obsolescence also increased more than doubled in an eight-year span, meaning manufacturers are fueling this sense of finality. To combat this, Electronic Recyclers International (ERI) works with retailers like Staples and Best Buy to offer programs for recycling old electronics. By sorting and disassembling electronics, ERI ensures toxic chemicals — like lead and arsenic — don’t make it into landfills and drip or bury their way into the land.ERI’s recycling facilities recycle everything from batteries to routers to DVD players, and they’re dual-certified by e-Stewards and R2, meaning the brand keeps all reclaimed materials as reusable commodities. The brand recycles more than 250 million pounds of e-waste each year in North America and also handles data destruction, underscoring how efforts to keep our landfills free of electronics can also increase data security.While nature improves our health and happiness, the damage the environment has incurred can also hurt our health and happiness. Technology is working to limit the negative impact of our surroundings, and forward-thinking companies are investing in sustainability as a way of securing our future — and their own.
Cayetano dares Lacson, Drilon to take lie-detector test: Wala akong kinita sa SEA Games What ‘missteps’? Injured Sharapova out of Wimbledon Heart Evangelista admits she’s pregnant… with chicken On Sunday his widow will stand in his place as Tapia joins a Hall of Fame class that includes Evander Holyfield and Marco Antonio Barrera in Canastota, New York. His induction comes five years almost to the day that he was found dead in his home.It will be a bittersweet moment for Teresa. She will give the acceptance speech her late husband is not around to make, and their three sons will be there to add support.There will be cheers, which Tapia loved. And there will be plenty of people, which he loved, too.“Johnny just genuinely loved people, no matter who they were,” Teresa Tapia said. “When he got in the ring it was more than just salvation for him, it was his way to give back to the fans. His whole life was about people.”It was a life that started without the most important person, his father, who was killed before he was born. At the age of eight he watched as his mother was stabbed 26 times with a screwdriver and left to die.ADVERTISEMENT LATEST STORIES “This is what he wanted and how he wanted to be remembered,” she said. “In a way it makes it so he keeps on living.”Sports Related Videospowered by AdSparcRead Next 1 dead in Cavite blast, fire WATCH: Firefighters rescue baby seal found in parking garage Lacson: SEA Games fund put in foundation like ‘Napoles case’ View comments Onyok Velasco see bright future for PH boxing in Olympics PLAY LIST 00:45Onyok Velasco see bright future for PH boxing in Olympics05:25PH boxing team determined to deliver gold medals for PH01:05Amir Khan claims Manny Pacquiao has agreed to Saudi Arabia bout02:49Robredo: True leaders perform well despite having ‘uninspiring’ boss02:42PH underwater hockey team aims to make waves in SEA Games01:44Philippines marks anniversary of massacre with calls for justice01:19Fire erupts in Barangay Tatalon in Quezon City01:07Trump talks impeachment while meeting NCAA athletes02:49World-class track facilities installed at NCC for SEA Games Don’t miss out on the latest news and information. World’s 50 Best Restaurants launches new drinking and dining guide MOST READ “I was raised as a pit bull. Raised to fight to the death,” Tapia wrote in his 2006 autobiography “Mi Vida Loca.” ″Four times I was declared dead. Four times they wanted to pull life support. And many more times I came close to dying.”One of those times was on his wedding night, when Teresa found him overdosed in the bathroom, a needle in his arm. Tapia battled drugs and he battled alcohol, but never had the winning record against them that he had in the ring.His life wasn’t just crazy, it was tragic. In 2007 he was hospitalized with a cocaine overdose, and his brother-in-law and nephew were killed in a car accident on their way to Albuquerque to see him.A stint in prison cost him four years of his boxing career. A suspension for cocaine use cost him three more.Through it all he fought, sometimes magnificently, winning three different titles starting at 115 pounds. He fought with showmanship and he fought with raw anger, winning 59 fights against five losses and two draws.But he couldn’t stay clean, couldn’t stay out of trouble. It was never really a question of how badly his life would end, but when it would end.“He was so open about his problems that sometimes people gave us grief about that,” Teresa Tapia said. “Yes he did drugs, but Johnny always said he never asked to be a role model. He said don’t look at me, just pray for me. He didn’t want others to fall for what he did. He was very straight forward.”That Tapia was voted by boxing writers into the Hall of Fame on his first ballot is testament to what he managed to accomplish in boxing despite his many issues. The city of Albuquerque recently named a community center in his honor, a testament to what he meant to boxing fans in that city.Teresa Tapia said she visited the Boxing Hall of Fame with her late husband in the 1990s, and he talked about how the all-time greats like Muhammad Ali had been there.Now he will have his own spot among them. FILE – In this Feb. 23, 2007 file photo, Johnny Tapia, from Albuquerque, N.M., is carried around the ring after his majority decision over Evaristo Primero, from El Paso, Texas, in a 10-round bout at Isleta Pueblo, N.M. Tapia was hospitalized in critical condition Monday, March 12, 2007, after an apparent cocaine overdose,. (AP Photo/Jake Schoellkopf)Johnny Tapia was never going to make it alive into the International Boxing Hall of Fame.He had way too many addictions, way too many demons. The only place Tapia ever felt peace was in the ring itself.ADVERTISEMENT “Johnny always said that when my career is over I don’t know what I’m going to do with myself and I probably won’t last long,” his widow, Teresa, said. “He lasted one year from when he quit boxing.”There was never really an official cause of death. Tapia’s heart simply stopped beating and, unlike his previous brushes with death, this one was for real.FEATURED STORIESSPORTSSEA Games: Biñan football stadium stands out in preparedness, completionSPORTSPrivate companies step in to help SEA Games hostingSPORTSMalditas save PH from shutoutTapia himself never thought he would live past the age of 40. He reached 45 before his tormented life finally came to an end at his home in Albuquerque, New Mexico.“He was full of life and was training still,” Teresa Tapia said. “We know he abused his body with drugs but he was clean from cocaine. Unfortunately he was taking prescription medication at the time, but it was because everything in his body was broken.” Heart Evangelista admits she’s pregnant… with chicken
Touch Football Australia have released the fourth edition of the High Performance Herald Newsletter. The Christmas edition gives the latest news and views from deep inside the Australian Camp as the seven National Teams approach the closing stages of their preparation phase for the Federation of International Touch World Cup in Stellenbosch, South Africa 17-21 January 2007.Please open the below attachment to read the High Performance Herald – Volume 4.Related Fileshigh_performance_herald_volume_4-pdf
Leonardo Spinazzola pens new Roma dealby Carlos Volcano19 days agoSend to a friendShare the loveLeonardo Spinazzola has extended his Roma contract to June 2024.The fullback arrived from Juventus over the summer with a deal running to June 2023.But he has convinced the Giallorossi so much that they already got him to sign a new and improved deal.The 26-year-old made the move from Juve for €29.5m as part of an exchange with Luca Pellegrini going to Turin. TagsTransfersAbout the authorCarlos VolcanoShare the loveHave your say
About the authorPaul VegasShare the loveHave your say Liverpool boss Klopp snappy over claims Man Utd underdogsby Paul Vegas7 days agoSend to a friendShare the loveLiverpool boss Jurgen Klopp has played down their favourites tag against Manchester United.The two fierce rivals will go toe-to-toe at Old Trafford on Sunday.”On Sky you made a combined line-up and had 11 players of Liverpool. It’s like a joke, like building a banana skin,” Klopp said in his Friday press conference.”The world at the moment is like a circus, and we are at the centre. I’m not influenced by it. I am 100 per cent sure of the strength of Manchester United.”The German also casted doubt on the injuries of Paul Pogba and David de Gea who have been ear-marked to miss the encounter.He added: “Yesterday, Pogba and De Gea there is ‘no chance’. Today it is ‘maybe’, tomorrow it is ‘a chance’!”
A number of Government ministries and agencies will participate in the Free and Open Source Software (FOSS) Pilot Project, slated to get underway in July.This was disclosed by Minister of State in the Ministry of Science, Technology, Energy and Mining, Hon. Julian Robinson, during his contribution to the 2013/14 Sectoral Debate on May 28, in the House of Representatives.The six-month project, slated to end in December, is aimed at providing the Government with a viable and sustainable alternative to proprietary software products, thereby reducing costin the procurement and management of software licences.“Every time in every Government department, if you have a desktop computer that, for instance, has Microsoft on it or any other software, the Government has to pay a licensing fee…it costs the Government significant sums to pay these fees,” Mr. Robinson said.He informed that the project is expected to: produce an inception report outlining the allocation of resources and the plan for knowledge transfer to the Government; conduct a critical review of the previous FOSS pilot undertaken by the Government as part of the Inter-American Development Bank/Information and Communications Technology (IDB/ICT) Project and produce a report on the same; and develop a FOSS migration strategy and corresponding guidelines.He noted that under the project, three pilots, one in each of the selected ministries, departments, and agencies, will be implemented to validate and adapt the FOSS migration methodology.Mr. Robinson informed that the Mona School of Business and Management (MSBM) will act as the interface between the Government and the University of Informatics Sciences (UCI) in Havana, Cuba to facilitate the development of the project.Contact: Chris Patterson
BEDMINSTER, N.J. – President Donald Trump’s top advisers say his proposed tax plan would not cut taxes disproportionately for the rich — despite an early non-partisan analysis that says it will.The White House and congressional Republicans released the broad strokes of a plan last week that would dramatically cut corporate tax rates from 35 per cent to 20 per cent, reduce the number of personal income tax brackets and boost the standard deduction.The Tax Policy Center of the Urban Institute and Brookings Institution released an analysis Friday that found the plan would deliver 50 per cent of its total tax benefit to taxpayers in the top 1 per cent, those with incomes above $730,000 a year.But White House budget director Mick Mulvaney told CNN’s “State of the Union” Sunday that it was too early for analysts to gauge that figure because the plan leaves out for now many crucial details, such as which income levels the new tax brackets would apply to.“In fact, I don’t think anybody can. And anybody who says they can is simply lying to you,” Mulvaney said. “It is impossible to sit down and say, this will be the impact on this wage earner or this family at this particular time.”Still, that didn’t stop Trump from doing just that during a speech in Indiana last week pitching the plan. In his remarks, Trump pointed to a number of locals, including Jonathan Blanton, an industrial janitor from Greentown, who earns a combined $90,000 a year with his wife.“Under our tax plan they would have saved more than $1,000, and it could be substantially more,” Trump told the crowd. “And that’s just on federal taxes.”Trump has also insisted that the plan wouldn’t reduce his personal tax bills, telling supporters: “It’s not good for me. Believe me.”The plan includes a number of provisions that favour the rich, including cutting the top income tax rate, getting rid of the alternative minimum tax, and eliminating the federal estate tax. Under current law, the first $11 million of an estate is exempt for a married couple, meaning only the wealthiest Americans pay it.But Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin told NBC’s “Meet the Press” that Trump’s goal is to boost jobs and lower the tax burden for the middle class.“The president has been very clear. And I’ve been clear from the beginning. Our objective is not to create tax cuts for the wealthy. Our objective is about creating middle-income tax cuts,” he said.In a separate appearance on ABC’s “This Week,” Mnuchin was asked whether he could guarantee Trump would not get a tax cut under his plan.“Again, as I’ve said all along, the objective of the president is that rich people don’t get tax cuts. And we’re perfectly comfortable, as we go through this process, we’ll explain to the American public how that works,” Mnuchin said.The Tax Policy Center and Brookings found that, under the plan, the after-tax incomes of the wealthiest Americans would increase 8.5 per cent next year.For other taxpayers, though, the benefits are far more modest or non-existent, the report finds. Taxpayers in the bottom 95 per cent would see tax cuts averaging 1.2 per cent of after-tax income or less next year.And about 12 per cent of taxpayers would face a tax increase next year, of $1,800 on average. That includes more than one-third of taxpayers earning between about $150,000 and $300,000, mostly because of the elimination of many itemized deductions.By 2027, taxes would increase for about a quarter of Americans, including nearly 30 per cent of those earning about $50,000 to $150,000 a year, and 60 per cent of people making $150,000 to $300,000, according to the study.
TORONTO – The Sobeys grocery business will be cutting about 800 office jobs across Canada as part of efforts to create one efficient national organization out of five regional operations, the company announced Friday.“The future success of Sobeys, and our continued service to over 900 communities across the country, depends on our steadfast commitment to transform our business,” said Michael Medline, who is chief executive of Sobeys and its parent company, Empire Co. Ltd. (TSX:EMP.B)Local reports of the news began to emerge late Thursday ahead of an internal announcement to Sobeys staff. The company confirmed the reports Friday morning.Sobeys is Canada’s second-largest grocery company, after Loblaw Cos. Ltd. (TSX:L), and faces many of the same challenges in the industry: competition from new rivals, higher costs from rising minimum wages in some areas and technological change.However, the company has also been struggling for several years with problems arising from its acquisition of Safeway Canada — which gave Sobeys a much bigger presence in Western Canada.“The first phase of our plan to transform our business, which has been focused on resetting the foundation of Sobeys and creating a new organization structure, is now substantially complete,” Medline said in a statement to the media.“This will allow us to be more efficient in many ways and to be more agile as we pursue new opportunities to compete and win the loyalty of Canadians.”In September, Empire reported that it was on track to achieve $500 million in annual cost savings as part of its transformation plan, dubbed Project Sunrise.It also reported that Sobeys had achieved same-store sales growth in the first quarter of its 2018 financial year. It was the first time in 18 months that Sobeys had reported higher year-over-year sales at stores open at least a year.Shares of Empire — which owns Sobeys Inc. and has an interest in the publicly-traded Crombie real-estate trust — were up about one per cent Friday morning.The stock has been stepping up in stages since the beginning of the year, when they were worth about $$15.55 each, and were above $25 each last week.Analyst Irene Nattel of RBC Dominion Securities wrote in a note to clients that the elimination of about 20 per cent of the Sobeys office workforce is a “critical step” towards reducing the company’s operating burden — but she remains cautious.“In our view . . . successful and timely implementation of the strategic plan boils down to execution and the process is unlikely to move forward in a straight line, with the CEO reiterating on the most recent conference call that quarterly performance is likely to ebb and flow as they execute Project Sunrise,” Nattel wrote.“Given the magnitude of the task that lies ahead, the competitive environment, EMP’s structural disadvantage in the discount space and rising ecommerce penetration, we recommend investors remain cautious . . . “Among the major challenges that face Canada’s major domestic grocers, including Loblaw, Sobeys and Montreal-based Metro Inc. (TSX:MRU), is Amazon.com’s increased presence in food retailing — including its recent acquisition of the Whole Foods chain of grocery stores.While Whole Foods has few stores in Canada, the country’s domestic grocers have worked to improve their efficiency to defend themselves from Amazon’s move into a bricks-and-mortar business to complement its disruptive online presence.Additionally, Sobeys and other national retailers have said they expect labour costs to rise as a result of higher minimum wages in Ontario — the country’s biggest provincial economy — as well as higher food costs.The Competition Bureau is also investigating the grocery industry amid allegations of price-fixing in the packaged bread space. Loblaw, Sobeys and Metro have said they’re co-operating with the federal agency’s probe but details of the files have been sealed by court order, limiting their comments on the matter.
Governing a country is a mammoth task per se, however, with the resources readily at disposal, the task becomes easier. Accusing the former UPA dispensation of a heap of failures, the then Prime Ministerial candidate Narendra Modi and BJP had left no stone unturned to showcase UPA’s inconsistencies, citing them detrimental to the development of the country. Marred with scams, UPA-II saw an obvious conclusion to its tumultuous regime with a right-wing nationalist voted to power. A plethora of welfare schemes and opposition failures raked up the saffron party’s popularity enabled BJP to register a thumping majority in the 2014 Lok Sabha polls. Since then, India has unarguably progressed. The government perceives the past five years under Modi as an exponential rise in terms of development due to their proactive efforts as summed up by various leaders of the lotus party – drawing sharp contrast from UPAs combined ten years. While development, undoubtedly, happened as it should have given the government’s responsibility, terming it exponential would be an exaggeration. And, with development came the hiccups that blemished the current dispensation’s “acche din” narrative. Also Read – A compounding difficultyDemonetisation remains the biggest of decisions in policymaking, singlehandedly bringing the entire nation to a standstill. The country listened as PM Modi in his speech on November 8, 2016, around 8 PM announced how from midnight onwards, all 500 and 1000 rupee notes would no longer be valid currency. The expectation was concise and focussed that with demonetisation, those holding onto untaxed black money will be caught. At the time, 500 and 1000 rupee notes comprised 86 per cent of all cash in circulation and hence their withdrawal meant undertaking a massive operation. Modi’s speech had three sharp aims of ending corruption – a predominant feature of BJPs manifesto – along with slashing down fake notes and financing to terrorists. Markets struggled as demonetisation hit the floors with long queues for changing the void currency visible across the country. Demonetisation did not impact the GDP much but it landed a heavy blow to the informal sector. Demonetisation, based on its initial aim, was somewhat influential in the thumping victory that BJP registered in UP elections as well. However, as Modi’s tenure progressed, the aim of demonetisation shifted drastically with the motive being to make India a cashless economy which will pave way for digital payments. In this regard, the government treats demonetisation as a success but still limits references to same in its campaign. If demonetisation was such a success as it is claimed to be, curiosity pertains as to why it is not at the tip of the tongue of BJP leaders and the government, who stopped mentioning the move. GST followed demonetisation as the new tax regime further affected the economy owing to a hasty implementation. The haste was such that streamlining products and processes took the entire of the remaining tenure. Also Read – An askew democracyWhile India was overcoming the economic shock, mob violence saw a drastic rise. Five years saw a rise in religious fanaticism and fake news on social media as catalysts to a spate of mob attacks across India. Cow protection was at the heart of this as cow vigilantes rose to assault those accused of either killing cows or transporting them to slaughter. These vigilantes enjoyed impunity under the garb of political support which did not do much to prevent lynching from becoming prominent in society. Dadri (September 2015), Jharkhand (March 2016), Una (July 2016), Rajasthan Highway (June 2017), Hapur (June 2018), et al, are instances where civilians were attacked by the enraged mob and justice remained a far cry. Since 2015, according to IndiaSpend, 117 cow protection-related incidents of violence happened and as per Quint, 88 people have been killed in lynchings across India. Lynching did not soar high just because of cow protection but other apprehensions such as child lifting were also singled out as reasons behind the unruly mob justice. Social media facilitated lynching via its massive outreach as fake news ushered mob gatherings and eventual killings. The government went largely silent on this as an incapable administration struggled to find a remedy. The infamous CBI infighting – an unfortunate spectacle for the entire nation – further corroborated popular beliefs that CBI functions as a political tool. Famously called the “caged parrot” by SC in May 2013, CBI was tagged as UPA’s puppet by Modi himself when he said “Congress will not fight the next Lok Sabha elections but will field CBI instead” back in 2013 as PM candidate. Yet, Modi could do little to remedy this tarnished reputation of CBI. Instead, in his tenure, CBI ascended to unprecedented turmoil with the top two cops of the agency accusing each other of graft charges. No Lokpal – additional watchdog on government and agencies – was there to check the regressive affairs of the most prestigious investigation agency despite the Lokpal Act being passed in 2013. NRC and Citizenship Amendment Bill (CAB) rocked the North East as their terms offered conflicting definitions of citizenship. BJP’s claim that CAB aims to give shelter to persecuted minorities came in conflict with dissents from JPC members who posed the question that why did CAB discriminate between migrants on the basis of country and religion when it rode on a humanitarian impulse to provide relief to people. Both NRC and CAB have kept the North East on the edge as the government’s actions promoted regional polarisation in Assam. Meanwhile, Kashmir witnessed increased militancy, mass protests, rising death toll and polarisation between Muslim-dominated Kashmir and Hindu-majority Jammu. In the five years, recruitment of youth to militant groups proliferated and so did the anti-militancy operations which ensured turmoil in the troubled valley, indefinitely. In 2017, gunfights concluded in the killing of 213 militants while 2018 saw 225 gunned down and civilian casualty as collateral damage was overlooked. Surgical Strikes along LoC and increased ceasefire violations (sharp rise since the UPA regime) featured as Kashmir and peace became the two ends of a continuum, if they were not already. In June 2018, the state government collapsed as BJP walked out of the BJP-PDP coalition and the state assembly was dissolved despite a historic partnership between NC and PDP with Congress to claim power. As far as Pakistan is concerned, Modi’s stance meandered across his term. From holding talks and formulating what could be better Indo-Pak ties, the situation deteriorated to heightened tensions along the border. Uri and Pulwama forced Modi to take up an offensive stance as India retaliated on both occasions. However, as always, the issue of the troublesome neighbour saw no gross improvement with Modi’s tenure being no different than any others’ in this regard. The controversial Rafale deal is stuck in the corridors of the apex court and arouses curiosity over the leaked documents which cite PMO’s indulgence in defence deals – yet another issue which blemishes Modi’s credibility. All in all, development went hand in hand with controversy, and as such, did not let Modi’s “acche din” narrative stand apart in utter limelight. Governance in the past five years has definitely been constructive but simultaneously regressive on some fronts too and it all depends on how one perceives these two sides of the five years before choosing a new government.
Hong Kong: A group of Hong Kong activists face jail after being convicted Tuesday on colonial-era “public nuisance” charges for their role in organising mass pro-democracy protests that paralysed the city for months and infuriated Beijing. The convictions followed a trial that has renewed alarm over shrinking freedoms under an assertive China which has rejected demands by Hong Kongers asking for a greater say in how the financial hub is run. Nine activists were all convicted on Tuesday of at least one charge in a prosecution that deployed rarely-used colonial-era public nuisance laws over their participation in the 2014 Umbrella Movement protests, which called for free elections for the city’s leader. Also Read – Saudi Crown Prince ‘snubbed’ Pak PM, recalled jet from USIt is the latest blow to strike the beleaguered pro-democracy camp which has seen key figures jailed or banned from standing as legislators since their civil disobedience movement convulsed the city but failed to win any concessions. Among the most prominent members of the group on trial were sociology professor Chan Kin-man, 60, law professor Benny Tai, 54, and Baptist minister Chu Yiu-ming, 75. The trio founded the pro-democracy “Occupy Central” movement in 2013, which joined the student-led Umbrella Movement a year later that brought parts of the city to a standstill for months. Also Read – Record number of 35 candidates in fray for SL Presidential pollsAll three were found guilty of conspiracy to commit public nuisance. Tai and Chan were also convicted of incitement to commit public nuisance although all three were acquitted of incitement to incite public nuisance. Of the remaining six defendants — a group of younger protest leaders, including two sitting lawmakers — all were convicted of at least one public nuisance charge. In an unusual move prosecutors tried the group under Hong Kong’s common law system, which carries a much steeper sentence than statutory public nuisance laws. Each protest leader could now face up to seven years in jail, rather than three months had the charges been brought under statutory law. Judge Johnny Chan ruled that the 2014 protests, which took over key intersections for many weeks, were not protected by Hong Kong’s free speech laws because the demonstrations impinged on the rights of others. “The unreasonableness of the obstruction was such that the significant and protected right to demonstrate should be displaced,” he said. “The act was one not warranted by law.” The defendants remain on bail with the court expected to continue hearing mitigation arguments in the coming days before handing down sentences. There were emotional scenes on Tuesday afternoon as the oldest defendant, Reverend Chu, delivered a statement in which he described the dock as “the most honourable pulpit of my ministerial career”. He warned Hong Kong’s leadership against ignoring youth-led calls for greater democratic freedoms. “The bell tolls. It gives out a warning sound, that something bad and disastrous is happening,” he said. In a submission sent to journalists fellow defendant Shiu Ka-chun added: “I want to warn the authoritarian government, even if you kill all the roosters, you cannot stop the dawn’s arrival.” Human rights groups and critics hit out at the convictions, saying the use of the vaguely worded public nuisance laws — and wielding the steeper common law punishment — would have a chilling effect on free speech in Hong Kong. “Hong Kong courts, by labelling peaceful protests in pursuit of rights as public nuisance, are sending a terrible message that will likely embolden the government to prosecute more peaceful activists,” said Maya Wang, a senior China researcher at Human Rights Watch. Chris Patten, the last British governor of Hong Kong, said it was “appallingly divisive to use anachronistic common law charges in a vengeful pursuit of political events which took place in 2014.” Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Lu Kang fired back at those criticisms, saying other countries would also have brought such a prosecution to “maintain order”. “The central government resolutely supports (Hong Kong) in punishing the main organisations and planners of the illegal Occupy Central movement in accordance with the law,” he told reporters. Hong Kong enjoys rights unseen on the Chinese mainland, which are protected by the 50-year handover agreement between Britain and China, but fears are growing that those liberties are being eroded as Beijing flexes its muscles. At the trial, prosecutors argued that the mass protests had caused a “common injury done to the public”, who had been affected by the blockage of major roads, and that the leaders of the movement deserved to be punished. In his verdict Judge Chan denied his ruling would impact the ability of Hong Kongers to protest. The Occupy movement highlighted widespread frustration, especially among the young, over Hong Kong’s direction but failed to win any reforms from Beijing.