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Visitors, staff stopped attempted theft of Magna Carta from Salisbury Cathedral

Salisbury cathedral
© Sputnik / Demond Cureton
Salisbury Cathedral
The ongoing trial revealed on Monday statements from prosecutors and attendees at the iconic cathedral, where an important document on democracy was vandalised by the defendant.

Mark Royden, 47, from Kent, attempted to steal a copy of the Magna Carta from Salisbury Cathedral, but was thwarted by visitors and personnel, a local court heard on Monday.

The defendant triggered a fire alarm before attempting to to smash glass protecting the 800-year-old document at the Wiltshire-based cathedral in October 2018. But passersby, including a stonemason and American tourists, managed to tackle him before he could damage the artefact.

Eye 1

Priest gets 60 days in jail for bubble-wrapping boy

A Michigan priest accused of wrapping a teenager in bubble wrap was sentenced Monday to 60 days in jail for attempted false imprisonment.

The Rev. Brian Stanley appeared in Allegan County court, two months after pleading guilty in a deal with the attorney general's office. He was initially charged with false imprisonment.

Stanley was accused of wrapping a boy in bubble wrap and tape in 2013 in a janitor's room at St. Margaret Church. The boy's eyes and mouth were also covered while he was left alone for an hour, according to the attorney general's office.

Stanley was supposed to be counseling the boy.


Taliban claims it shot down US Air Force electronic warfare plane in Afghanistan - 'High-ranking CIA officers onboard' - No survivors

CIA plane afghanistan

The US Air Force 'low visibility' insignia on the charred fuselage of a CIA plane shot down by 'the Taliban' today
A Taliban spokesman claims the group has shot down a US military aircraft over eastern Afghanistan.

The US military said on Monday it was investigating reports of a crash in Taliban-controlled territory.

Footage purportedly taken from the snowy wreckage site showed the US air force insignia on the charred fuselage.

A spokesman for the Taliban, Zabihullah Mujahid, said in a statement posted online: "An American invader aircraft has been shot down. Lots of officers have been killed."

He claimed high-ranking CIA officers had been onboard the plane. Neither the footage nor his claims could be verified.

Comment: Defence Blog reports that the plane
"was probably E-11A aircraft assigned to 430th Expeditionary Electronic Combat Squadron. Wreck of a plane crashed today in Afghanistan looks like to be a U.S. Air Force Bombardier Global 6000 / E-11A "BACN" (Battlefield Airborne Communications Node)."
BACN is award-winning DoD 'network centric warfare' technology, the creme de la creme of US electronic warfare technology...

Aerotime Hub reports that the plane is
"used by the United States Air Force as a communication relay plane. The tail number reads 358, which could correspond to 11-9358, delivered to the USAF in March 2013. The aircraft has been flying with the 430th Expeditionary Electronic Combat Squadron, stationed at Kandahar Air Base, southern Afghanistan."
Question: how in heck did the Taliban shoot down that particular plane? They don't have the tech, much less the necessary intel...

(Probable) answer: they didn't. At least, they didn't without help from neighboring state actors with the means and the motive...

Update 19:30 CET

The Taliban is claiming a second scalp today: a helicopter shot down in Paktika province:

"Tonight after the incident in Ghazni, an enemy military helicopter was shot down near Sharan, the capital of the Paktika province, it was completely destroyed. All people on board died."
Update 20:00 CET

Local media reports that some documents were recovered:

Meanwhile, all General David Goldfein, the Air Force's chief of staff, could say about the incident at a press briefing was:
"It appears we have lost an aircraft..."
No sh*t, Sherlock!

Update 20:15 CET

Ah, finally, a more complete statement from the Pentagon...

Translation: they're going to 'eat' this attack too. Which they would do, given that global perception of invincibility is more important to dollar supremacy than the fact of such.

That's 21st century covert wars for you!


Authorities battle Atlantic storm to intercept a yacht carrying almost 2 metric tons of cocaine

An international drug operation involving authorities from six countries captured a yacht carrying almost 2 metric tons of cocaine in the middle of an Atlantic storm.

Portugal's navy and air force took part in the seizure, with a street value of more than 70 million euros ($77 million), amid "very difficult weather conditions," a Portuguese police statement said Monday.

Bizarro Earth

Palestinian boy allegedly kidnapped, found drowned

Qais Abu Rmaileh drowned boy palestinian
© @SadaeMazlomeen
Qais Abu Rmaileh was found dead in the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Beit Hanina.
UPDATE: 26/01/2019

Despite reports and his family's initial fears that he might have been kidnapped by Israeli settlers, as happened to Abu Khdair years ago, police confirmed that Qais Abu Rmaileh drowned in an open cistern.


An eight-year-old Palestinian boy who went missing in East Jerusalem Friday afternoon was found dead at the bottom of a cistern filled with rainwater after long hours of search efforts Saturday

Qais Abu Rmaileh was found in the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Beit Hanina and was immediately taken to Hadassah hospital, where lifesaving attempts were unsuccessful.

Comment: Quds Network interviewed a diver, Khaled Olayyan, involved in the search for Qais Abu Rmaileh
"I heard that there was a child from Jerusalem, who had been kidnapped or lost since the afternoon and had not come back home until late at night. So, the search operations took off but that was in vain", said Khaled Olayyan.
Khaled Olayyan palestinian boy drowned

Diver Khaled Olayyan searches the culvert for a missing Palestinian boy, later found drowned.
The Palestinian former prisoner, Khaled Olayyan, told QNN that he went out with a group of young men from Jabal Al Mukabbir in southern Jerusalem at 9:00 pm towards Beit Hanina, where hundreds of Palestinians gathered to put a search plan, which may save the life of the then lost 8-year-old boy Qais Abu Rmeileh.

After several hours of search, the locals decided to empty a box culvert of rainwater using a vehicle owned by the Israeli rescue unit. At the same time, the locals found another box culvert and rushed to search for the boy inside it.

The Israeli police accompanied the locals but refused to cooperate or help them. It refused even to provide adequate lighting to help search for the boy. An Israeli lifeguard refused to dive inside the box culvert, claiming that "the water was too cold".

Although of the weather temperature, which approached freezing yesterday, Olayyan "removed his clothes and kept with others to search for the boy for half an hour".

After he and other young men left the water, everyone started to warm them. After an hour, their body temperature decreased and a medical intervention became necessary.

Olayyan stressed that the Israeli police did not cooperate with the Palestinians at all. It even started attacking the locals, who were searching for the boy, without providing any reasons. Stun and poisonous grenades in addition to Paton and rubber-coated metal bullets were used against the locals as if it was a confrontation, not a rescue operation
Quds Network also reported:
The body of Qais Abu Rmeileh was found inside a box culvert, in which he seemingly fell. Medical teams tried to revive him but he was already dead.

The Palestinian Red Crescent stated that its teams have dealt with nearly 19 injuries among locals, who were attacked by the Israelis during the search operations.

Two divers and three others were wounded as well due to the very cold water.

The National Social Movement held the occupation authorities responsible for the tragic incident because they left a dangerous watershed in a very vital area, which includes schools, markets, and playgrounds, untreated and uncovered without even warning locals.

"If the residents were Jewish, there would have been no such negligence", the statement added.

Car Black

GM to invest $2.2B in Detroit to build electric vehicles

General Motors
General Motors is spending $2.2 billion to refurbish an underused Detroit factory so it can build a series of electric and self-driving vehicles, eventually employing 2,200 people.

GM said in a statement Monday that the factory will start building the company's first electric pickup late in 2021, followed by a funky-looking self-driving shuttle for GM's Cruise autonomous vehicle unit.

The truck will be the first of several electric vehicles to be built at the plant, which straddles the border between Detroit and the enclave of Hamtramck. The company has plans to revive the Hummer nameplate for one of the vehicles.

In November of 2018 GM announced plans to close the factory along with three others in the U.S. But the company promised to reopen Detroit-Hamtramck to build electric vehicles during last fall's contentious contract negotiations with the United Auto Workers union.

Comment: See also: Study shows electric cars become practically useless in cold weather


Manhunt in France after fierce street shootout with 'Kalashnikovs' captured on video in city of Nimes

Kalashnikov assalt rifles
© Reuters / Arben Celi
AK-47 Kalashnikov assalt rifles seized from crime gangs operating in Europe.
Police are reportedly on high alert in southern France after a violent shootout took place in the streets of the city of Nimes. Videos captured at the scene suggest that Kalashnikov-type assault rifles were used in the gunfight.

Repeated gunfire bursts were heard in the French city as at least two people "armed with Kalashnikovs" roamed the streets around 8:30pm local time, according to witnesses and videos they shared on social media.

There were no immediate reports of any casualties or injuries, although according to local newspaper Midi Libre there was some "material damage."

The shooting may have been related to turf wars between rival gangs operating in the Pissevin district of Nimes, locals have speculated in the absence of any official statement. Authorities have yet to comment on the incident.

Gold Coins

Embittered UK Remainers pledge to vandalize and SHUN commemorative Brexit coin

brexit coin britain boycott
The Brexit 50p caused quite a stir when it was officially launched on Sunday.
It was meant to be a token of 'peace, prosperity and friendship with all nations,' but the UK government's Brexit 50p has become another symbol of the disunity in Britain, as Remainers pledge to boycott the commemorative coin.

Around three million of the coins will enter banks, Post Offices and shops when the UK finally leaves the European Union on Friday 31 January, and a further seven million will enter circulation later this year.

The official launch of the new piece of change, which bears the words 'peace, prosperity and friendship with all nations,' sparked a hysterical reaction from prominent Remainers on Sunday, with many pledging that they would refuse to handle the coin.

Comment: The countdown has begun. Will any party pull a rabbit out of a hat to once again halt the UK's exit? Or will the final agreement with the EU be so toothless that Britain could have skipped all the drama of the last four years?


Greek police report seizure of nearly 1.2 tons of cocaine

Greek police say they seized nearly 1.2 tons of cocaine and arrested 8 alleged members of an international drug trafficking gang.

Almost all of the cocaine, 1.18 tons, was found during a Friday afternoon raid at a house in the western Greek port of Astakos, police spokesman Theodoros Chronopoulos said Saturday.

The drugs were carefully packaged in 1,040 nylon bags, ready to be distributed to intermediaries, Chronopoulos said.

Four more home raids in the Athens area yielded a small amount of cocaine, some cannabis, an AK-47 assault rifle and three pistols. Police also seized over 233,000 euros ($257,000) in cash and impounded five vehicles.


The right to protest against Israel's policies threatened

Manchester HSBC
Right to protest threatened/ 30 HSBC bank branches picketed over Israeli apartheid.
In the summer of 2018, when the media was dominated by daily stories about Labour's anti-semitism crisis, Brian Klug, one of the world's foremost academic experts on anti-semitism, issued a plea for reasoned and informed thinking on the issue in place of the kind of moral panic which was ensuing.

At that time, the supposed touchstone of Labour's commitment to addressing anti-semitism was its willingness to adopt the IHRA definition of anti-semitism unamended and with no additional accompanying text.

Klug's forensic piece illustrated the illegitimacy of this argument, but ended with a heartfelt warning:
"Part of me feels the hopelessness of appealing to reason, a sense of swimming against a mighty and unmindful current of opinion... rallying around the IHRA text as if it were the eternal word of God."
Move forward 18 months and the headlong rush by all of Labour's candidates for leader to endorse the Board of Deputies 10 pledges for action on anti-semitism, showed the prescience of Klug's warning that appeals for reason would go unheeded.

Comment: See also: