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Thu, 20 Feb 2020
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Palestine's daily indignities: Israeli police break into Palestinian kindergarten, search children's bags for "weapons"

israel kindergarten search police
© Arab48
Israeli policemen searching bags of the children of Baida'a Ath Thalj kindergarten in the city of Tayibe, which is located in the land occupied in 1948.
Large numbers of heavily-armed Israeli policemen on Monday broke into Baida'a AthThalj kindergarten in the city of Tayibe in the land occupied in 1948 and searched children's bags, spreading fear among the children, reported Arab 48.

The Israeli raid comes a few days after breaking into a school in occupied Acre and taking a 9-year-old girl for interrogation.

The Israelis searched the bags of all children despite trials by teachers to prevent them.

The police claimed that it was looking for weapons inside the children's bags.

Rabab Oweidah, a teacher in the kindergarten, told Arab 48 that she "was very concerned about the children, who seemed very scared and shocked

Comment: Quds News also reported the destruction of a water supply in Jericho the same week:
Israeli occupation forces today destroyed pipes providing water to al-Shunah quarter in the village of al-Jiftlik, located in the Jordan Valley to the north of Jericho, according to Qais al-Sinawi, a local activist.

He told official Palestinian news agency WAFA that Israeli forces raided the village and proceeded to destroy the connectors supplying running water to Palestinian crops.

Palestinians tend to install water connector to the main Israeli water carrier lines which supply between 400 and 700 cubic meters of underground Palestinian water per hour to the colonial settlements, which is for them the only way they can get water to their homes, crops and livestock as Israel bans them from building water pipes of their own.

Israel does not allow Palestinian development in the Jordan Valley, which its politicians have made it clear on several occasions that the fertile Jordan Valley would be annexed to Israel.


Man stabbed in neck at London mosque during afternoon prayer

mosque stabbing
© The Guardian/Youtube
Screenshot: Footage appears to show man arrested at London mosque after stabbing
Scotland Yard has launched an investigation into the attempted murder of a man who was stabbed at a mosque during afternoon prayers.

The mosque's muezzin, who calls others to prayers, was said to have been stabbed in the neck, according to one witness who posted a video showing the alleged attacker being detained by police at London Central Mosque in Regent's Park.

The Metropolitan police confirmed the injured man was aged in his 70s. He had been assessed in hospital after being treated by paramedics at the scene and his condition was not life-threatening.

A man, who one witness said was a regular at the mosque, was arrested on suspicion of attempted murder, police said.

Comment: Also today: 9 dead after 'racist' man goes on shooting spree at two hookah bars in Hanau, Germany

Meanwhile there were at least two other notable incidents this week and in the UK:


Riot troops sent to small Ukrainian town as residents attempt to block evacuated coronavirus patients

Protests ukraine coronavirus

Ukrainian riot police gather to block protesters who planed to stop busses with passengers from the Ukrainian aircraft chartered by the Ukrainian government for evacuation from the Chinese city of Wuhan, leave the the gate upon their landing at airport outside Novi Sarzhany, Ukraine, Thursday, Feb. 20, 2020
Ukraine had to resort to old-school police tactics to quash a protest by local residents of a small town when they closed roads after learning that a plane full of possible carriers of the new coronavirus was heading their way.

On Thursday, the Ukrainian government finally evacuated its citizens from the epidemic-stricken Chinese city of Wuhan. Four people were barred from boarding the plane by medics due to elevated body temperature, but 73 others boarded the charter flight. After a short detour to Kazakhstan to deliver two nationals to the Central Asian country, the plane flew to Ukraine.

But not everyone in Ukraine was happy for their 45 compatriots and 29 foreigners who were fleeing China. Some residents of Novi Sanzhary, in Ukraine's Poltava region, learned that they will be hosting the evacuees and crew members from the plane at a local medical resort. Much like similarly-minded people in Hong Kong, they said they didn't want to take the risk and resorted to street protests.

Comment: When there has been such a concerted effort by news media to terrify people about the virus, the response by residents is understandable, although hardly charitable.

Arrow Down

Two killed when Sydney-to-Melbourne XPT train derails near Victoria

Sydney to Melbourne XPT derailed

The scene after a Sydney to Melbourne XPT derailed, killing two people.
Two people, including the driver, were killed when the Sydney-to-Melbourne XPT train carrying 160 passengers derailed in Victoria on Thursday night.

Four carriages were scattered across rail lines, leaving shaken passengers scrambling from the wreckage near Wallan, 47km north of Melbourne, at 7.50pm.

The train was 12 hours into its journey and running more than two hours late when carriages jack-knifed on a section of track where recent problems had forced delays.

Comment: The incident is particularly unfortunate coming just after the mid-air plane collision north of Melbourne which took the lives of four people.


UK: Hospitals to deny care to "racist" or "homophobic" patients

ambulance UK
Patients deemed to be "racist" or "homophobic" will be denied care in NHS Trust hospitals under new rules set to take effect in April.

"Currently, staff can refuse to treat non-critical patients who are verbally aggressive or physically violent towards them," reports Sky News. "But these protections will extend to any harassment, bullying or discrimination, including homophobic, sexist or racist remarks."

Police will also be given new powers to prosecute "hate crimes" committed against NHS staff.


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

© 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:

Arrow Up

Death toll surpasses 2,000 in China coronavirus outbreak, with over 75,000 confirmed cases globally

woman wearing mask
© Reuters / Aly Song
A woman wearing a face mask and raincoat sits in the Shanghai Hongqiao Railway Station on the last day of the Spring Festival travel rush, as China is hit by an outbreak of the novel coronavirus.
The viral outbreak gripping China has claimed over 2,000 lives - the vast majority in Hubei province, the epicenter of the illness - according to the latest official tally. More than 75,000 people have been infected to date.

Health officials in Hubei reported 132 new fatalities on Tuesday, a significant increase from the 93 confirmed the day prior. However even as the death and disease tolls continue to climb in China and elsewhere, over 13,000 patients have recovered from the contagion, including some 8,000 in Hubei.

While the two confirmed coronavirus patients in Russia, both Chinese citizens, have recovered and were recently discharged from the hospital, Moscow on Tuesday announced a travel ban on Chinese nationals looking to enter Russia for work, tourism or other private purposes. The restriction will come into force later this week.

Comment: A later report finds 2 passengers on the cruise have died from the illness:
An elderly couple aboard Diamond Princess cruise ship docked in Japan, where over 620 cases of coronavirus were confirmed, has succumbed to the illness. The fatalities come as Tokyo allows hundreds of passengers to return home.

Both passengers were in their 80s, according to public broadcaster NHK, and are the first on board the ship to die of the virus, which has spread to more than 75,000 people and killed over 2,100 worldwide since last December. So far, the majority of fatalities have involved elderly patients with preexisting conditions.
And in Iran, another 2 reported deaths:
Two Iranian patients infected with the new COVID-19 virus have died in a hospital in the holy Shi'ite city of Qom, the head of the city's University of Medical Sciences told the Mehr news agency on February 19.

The official said the two "died of respiratory illness" after previously testing positive for the virus.

Their deaths were confirmed by Health Ministry spokesman Kianush Jahanpour on Twitter.

Earlier in the day, the ISNA news agency quoted Jahanpour as saying that "some suspected cases of the new coronavirus were found" over the past two days.

He said the two confirmed cases were detected in the central province of Qom where the recent fatalities took place.
See also:


Extinction Rebellion Cambridge activists dig up Trinity College lawn

extinction rebellion digging lawn cambridge
© Keith Heppell (29432294)
Extinction Rebellion dig up the lawn at Trinity College.
Extinction Rebellion activists are digging up the lawn outside Trinity College this morning (Monday, February 17).

Campaigners have taken to the lawn around Newton's Apple Tree and are digging up the ground with spades. One protester has chained themselves to the tree.

Grass and soil dug up from the Trinity College lawn was then dumped on the floor inside Barclays Bank on St Andrew's Street.

Comment: See also:


Scandal-ridden OPCW now using Twitter's "hide replies" function to silence dissent

hide replies twitter
When Twitter first implemented its "hide replies" function last year I published an article warning that it could be used by establishment narrative managers to marginalize dissident voices and diminish the relatively egalitarian nature of the platform. When I wrote it I was imagining the function being used by overt manipulators like cable TV pundits and Washington Post columnists, and think tank operatives like Neera Tanden who vocally supported the implementation of the function.

What I absolutely was not expecting, as paranoid and conspiracy-minded as I am, was a highly regarded UN-associated international chemical watchdog group using the function for that purpose.


Syria: Aleppo intl airport receive first flight ending 8 years long shutdown

Aleppo First flight 2020
© SANA via AP
In this photo released by the Syrian official news agency SANA, Syrian officials and journalists disembark a Syrian commercial plane after it landed at Aleppo Airport, Syria, Wednesday, Feb. 19, 2020. The Syrian commercial flight on Wednesday from Damascus, marked the resumption of internal flights between Syria's two largest cities for the first time since 2012.
A Syrian Air flight has landed at Aleppo International Airport for the first time in years, marking a milestone in the recovery of the city, which has been returning to normal life from the abyss of its civil war.

The commercial flight, carrying Syrian officials and journalists, landed in Aleppo on Wednesday, some 40 minutes after taking off from the capital, Damascus. The arrival of the Airbus A320 has become a symbolic message, marking the resumption of flights between Syria's two biggest cities.

Footage taken on the spot showed a crowd of people that came to the airport to welcome the first flight. Some cheered and waved Syrian national flags, others held placards with portraits of President Bashar Assad.

Comment: See also: