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Russia has already self-quarantined 2,500 people to prevent spread of coronavirus infection - Moscow mayor

Moscow Mayor Sergey Sobyanin
© Sputnik / Ilya Pitalev
Moscow Mayor Sergey Sobyanin
Despite its 4,000km border with China, Russia currently has no live reported domestic cases of the pathogen which has sent its neighbor into lock-down. Authorities clearly want to try and keep it that way.

Moscow Mayor Sergey Sobyanin announced on Friday that over 2,500 people have already been ordered into quarantine due to the risk of the Covid-19 coronavirus. He also explained on his blog that all arrivals from China will have to undergo a physical and take a test for the infection. They then must isolate themselves. He added that if tests at the airport detect a temperature or other symptoms, the person would be immediately sent to a hospital.

"In practice, this means that anyone who arrives from China should not leave their home or hotel for two weeks," the mayor said. "Compliance [with the quarantine order] is continuously monitored, including through the automated face recognition system and other technical measures." Many CCTV cameras throughout the Russian capital are equipped with facial recognition technology designed to enable authorities to find wanted criminals.

Cheeseburger

Good luck with that: After failing with worm burgers, Norwegian grocery chain to launch cricket burgers

cricket burger
After failing to convince consumers to buy worm burgers, a Norwegian grocery chain is trying to market burgers made from ground up crickets.

Supermarket Meny scrapped the idea of worm burgers after insufficient demand but seem convinced that they can stir up enthusiasm for people to chomp down on insects.

"It is difficult to see whether Norwegian consumers are more open to insects in a burger than bread, but the link to testing alternative protein sources, such as insects, is probably more closely linked to a burger," communications manager of Meny, Nina Horn Hynne, told E24.

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Propaganda

Fake email 'from outside the country' made Ukrainians throw stones at Wuhan evacuees, BuzzFeed report implies

ukrainian police coronavirus
© REUTERS / Valentyn Ogirenko
Ukrainian police clear the way as demonstrators block a road to prevent the arrival of evacuees from coronavirus-hit China.
Violent protests in Ukraine over the evacuation of its citizens from infection-stricken China was triggered by a foreign psyop, a report at BuzzFeed wants reader to believe. Well, what isn't Russia's fault?

On Thursday, local residents in a small Ukrainian town tried to stop buses carrying people evacuated from Wuhan, China. Panicked beyond all reason, they erected roadblocks, burned tires, and ultimately pelted the vehicles carrying evacuees with stones - a reaction that left many people in the country and elsewhere disgusted.


Comment: Even Ukrainian President Zelensky said in this case Ukraine had reverted to the Middle Ages:
"You know, we always say that Ukraine is Europe," the president told the nation, referring to a slogan popular among pro-Western elements, which became particularly widespread following the 2014 Maidan coup. "To tell the truth, yesterday, we sometimes seemed to be the Europe of the Middle Ages," he added, chastising those who staged violent protests in central Ukraine.



Sure, a woman shouting "we will torch [the hospital] with the sick people inside" is not a pleasant sight to see. But if you read BuzzFeed, you might assume the culprit in this mess was Russia. "A Viral Email About Coronavirus Had People Smashing Buses And Blocking Hospitals," reads the headline of the story.


Comment: The number one rule of Ukrainian statecraft (though they're by no means the only ones): whenever possible, blame a foreign country for your own problems, preferably Russia.


Eye 1

New York City taxi commission accused of $810 million fraud

NYC taxi cabs
© James D. Morgan/Getty Images
Taxi's lined up at an intersection on Feb. 27th 2017, in New York City.Taxi's lined up at an intersection on Feb. 27th 2017, in New York City.
New York Attorney General Letitia James announced plans to sue New York City for allegedly fraudulent practices by its Taxi and Limousine Commission, accusing the agency of running a scheme on taxi drivers that created a "trapdoor of despair."

A taxicab medallion, often seen bolted to a vehicle's hood, is a numbered plate required to operate a yellow cab. James is alleging that the TLC played a role in inflating the price of thousands of medallions over a 14-year period, 2004 to 2017, sometimes by more than 200%.

"Government should be a source of justice, not a vehicle for fraudulent practices," James said in a statement, announcing a notice of claim for $810 million. She's alleging the city profited by that same amount selling medallions and by collecting a 5% tax on third-party transfers.

"These taxi medallions were marketed as a pathway to the American Dream, but instead became a trapdoor of despair for medallion owners harmed by the TLC's unlawful practices," she added.

Star of David

No racism here: Israeli taxi app 'Gett' sued for service option used to avoid Arab drivers

Israel gett taxi service
© Valerii Soloviov/Alamy
A Gett sign on a car in Tel Aviv, Israel.
Human rights lawyers in Jerusalem have sued Gett, an Israeli taxi-hailing app, for providing a service they allege was designed to give customers the option to practically guarantee they would not get an Arab driver.

Gett, a global firm that also works with black cabs in the UK, offers users in the holy city the choice to request a taxi that is not driven on the Sabbath, the weekly Jewish day of rest, and some Jewish holidays.

In addition to its "express" and "premium" offers, the unique service is labelled as "Mehadrin", referring to the most stringent levels of Jewish regulations. Unlike observant Jews, Palestinian Arab drivers in Jerusalem are generally Muslim or Christian and often work during the Sabbath.

Gett says drivers of any religion can register to provide this service if they confirm that their vehicle meets the requirements.

However, according to a class-action lawsuit filed this week, Gett Mehadrin is accused of being a cover for a discriminatory service.

Comment:


Newspaper

'America's defeat': NYT shredded online for op-ed by Taliban leader wanted by the FBI

New york times
© REUTERS/Carlo Allegri
Twitter users are scratching their heads and openly questioning the New York Times' standards after the outlet published an opinion piece by the Taliban's deputy leader - a man on the FBI's most-wanted list with a $5mn bounty.

Considering the current position of the US in the Middle East, the Times running a piece penned by Sirajuddin Haqqani, entitled 'What We, the Taliban, Want,' did not sit well with many.

Social media users were quick to denounce the piece as "propaganda," with several tweeting that publishing something written by the Taliban is "not a good look" for the NYT. One Twitter commenter wrote: "Nothing screams American defeat more than today's oped."

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No Entry

Ukrainian villagers STONE buses bringing countrymen evacuated from Wuhan to coronavirus quarantine

Ukrainian coronavirus
© REUTERS/Valentyn Ogirenko
A masked protester throws a brick at buses carrying Ukrainian coronavirus evacuees from China, in Novye Sanzhary, Poltava region, February 20, 2020
Ukrainians evacuated from Wuhan, China, have been less than welcomed at a village hosting the coronavirus quarantine facility. Videos show locals throwing stones at buses with evacuees, burning tires and clashing with police.

Dozens of villagers first attempted to block the road leading to Novye Sanzhary, in the Poltava region of central Ukraine, and stop the government's plan to quarantine the Ukrainian evacuees from Wuhan there. Their roadblocks were removed by force, with police using armored vehicles and arresting several locals.

Later on Thursday, the villagers gathered outside the local medical facility and threw stones at the buses bringing in the evacuees, smashing windows and damaging the vehicles.

Comment: Perhaps this behavior is more telling about the deteriorating conditions within Ukraine itself, made worse thanks to the hysteria whipped up by the mass media, because some experts are claiming that, at the moment, the coronavirus is more akin to 'a severe, localized common cold'.

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Pistol

9 dead after 'racist' man goes on shooting spree at two hookah bars in Hanau, Germany - UPDATE

Hanau
© Reuters / Kai Pfaffenbach
Special forces searching an area after a shooting in Hanau near Frankfurt, Germany, February 20, 2020
Shootings at two hookah bars in the German city of Hanau and nearby Kesselstadt have resulted in multiple casualties. Police believe the attacks are related and have detained one suspect.

German media reported that the first incident happened at Kurt-Schumacher-Platz in central Hanau. It was followed by the shooting in Kesselstadt, which apparently involved shots fired at another hookah bar from a moving car shortly afterward.

The two incidents are being treated as related.


A third shooting, in the Lamboy district, has been reported by local TV channel Hessischer Rundfunk, but remains unconfirmed as of yet.


Hanau is a city of about 100,000 residents, located just east of Frankfurt on the Mein, in the German state of Hesse.

Comment: Chancellor Merkel had this to say about it:
"There are many indications at the moment that the perpetrator acted on right-wing extremist, racist motives, out of hatred towards people of other origins, religion or appearance. Racism is poison, hatred is poison and this poison exists in society and it is to blame for too many crimes."
See also: UPDATE: Friday 21st February @ 15:32 CET

Turkey's FM has weighed into the discussion saying that racism in Europe is rising and that it needs to do more to combat this. While it does appear the murders were targeted, it's worth remembering that the gunman also killed his own mother.
It's impossible to see attacks like Hanau as isolated, the Turkish Foreign Ministry has said. Ankara called on Europe to avoid "this encouraging approach" to xenophobia, and to "unite against racism."

"The insensitivity shown towards the fight against increasing xenophobia in Europe leads to new attacks every day," said a statement published by the Turkish Foreign Ministry on February 20.

"It is time to put an end to these attacks. Otherwise, racism and xenophobia will reach more serious levels and lead us to a dangerous situation."

Primarily, Turkey wants other European governments to avoid "this encouraging approach" to hatred against Islam, and instead "unite against racism and xenophobia, and speak with one voice."

[...]

Far-right attacks have been rather common in Germany lately. In October 2019, a man in Halle killed two and wounded two outside a synagogue, before being caught by the police. In July, another man went out to find a random dark-skinned person to shoot and wounded one, who luckily survived. A Neo-Nazi killed a pro-migrant politician, Walter Luebcke, in his home the same year.

However, Germany has also been shaken by violence committed by supporters of hardline Islamists. In 2016, a failed asylum seeker, Anis Amri, drove a truck into a crowd in Berlin, killing 11. He had pledged allegiance to Islamic State.

In 2017, another man who'd sought asylum went on a stabbing spree in Hamburg, claiming later he tried to kill as many Christian Germans as possible.
Also this week, Macron declared a clamp down on the Turkish imams in France who are preaching Turkish, Islamic law.

See also: Is There a Hidden Hand Behind The 'Clash of Civilizations' in Europe?


Attention

Female prisoner claims she was raped by transgender inmate, sues prison

inmate andre patterson
A female inmate at the Logan Correctional Centre in Illinois is suing the prison after alleging they attempted to cover up her sexual assault by a transgender inmate that was housed with her.

The proceedings were covered by Public Broadcasting Service station WTTW, who reported the victim, referred to as Jane Doe, was sexually assaulted in June 2019. Doe alleges she was then coerced by a correctional officer into withdrawing her claim, which led to her being punished for having filed a false report under the Prison Rape Elimination Act.

Doe's alleged assailant is named as Janiah Monroe, a transgender inmate who identifies as female but has male genitalia. According to WTTW, Monroe and another transgender inmate recently sued the Illinois Department of Corrections, demanding transfers to women's facilities. Monroe, formerly known as Andre Patterson, had been sentenced to 12 years in prison for the attempted murder of a government employee, before receiving an additional 20 years for murdering a cellmate after being imprisoned.

Propaganda

'This should go well': Trolling and worry as Twitter reveals plan to flag 'lies & misinformation'

twitter
Twitter is experimenting with features that will supposedly help identify tweets containing lies with community help, but the social media giant's track record of bias and questionable banning standards has users concerned.

Tweets that spread "lies" or "misinformation" will be highlighted for users with a bright-colored warning that is nearly the same size as the offending post, according to a report from NBC News. The changes are supposedly part of a policy revamp at Twitter, scheduled to go into effect next month.


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