US blocks Hong Kong users from some government websites

The US has blocked Hong Kong residents from accessing at least two federal government websites that provide economic data, in a development that could fuel rising tensions between Washington and Beijing over the semi-autonomous territory.

The websites of the Bureau of Labor Statistics, which publishes economic information including monthly jobs and unemployment figures, and the US Census Bureau, which releases data such as retail sales, new residential construction and international trade, have been inaccessible to Hong Kong internet users for months.

The Financial Times contacted multiple US government agencies for information on the reasons for the blocked websites in Hong Kong but received limited responses. 

A spokesperson for the Department of Labor, which includes the Bureau of Labor Statistics, declined to comment on “security procedures” but confirmed that “agencies began implementing geoblocks that included Hong Kong in January 2018” — nearly three years ago.

That would mean the measures started

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Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine says he will sign law that temporarily blocks local plastic bag bans

COLUMBUS, Ohio — Gov. Mike DeWine said Tuesday he plans to sign a bill into law that would temporarily ban local governments, including Cuyahoga County, from setting local bans on plastic bags and other single-use containers.

DeWine in December said he opposes the proposal to ban local bag bans. But he said Tuesday because the bill expires after 12 months, and because of the extraordinary circumstances surrounding the current COVID-19 pandemic, he’s been convinced to support it.

“My general principle is, unless there’s a compelling reason why we need uniformity throughout Ohio that we should stay away from telling local units of government what to do,” he said. “They’re elected by the local citizens, they’re accountable to the local citizens and if the local citizens don’t like them, they can get rid of them.

“So unless there’s a compelling reason to do it, I would normally veto this bill. But

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