Hong Kong airport shut down after protesters storm inside

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE NEW YORK POST)

 

Hong Kong airport shut down after protesters storm inside

Hong Kong’s airport canceled all flights Monday after thousands of pro-democracy protesters stormed into the main terminal of one of the world’s busiest travel hubs to denounce police violence.

“Airport operations at Hong Kong International Airport have been seriously disrupted … all flights have been canceled,” the city’s airport authority said in a statement. “All passengers are advised to leave the terminal buildings as soon as possible.”

Hong Kong has been roiled by mass protests calling for democratic reforms and an independent investigation into police conduct, with both the demonstrators and police turning to more extreme tactics.

In Beijing, the Cabinet’s Hong Kong and Macao Affairs Office issued a statement saying the situation in the former British colony was “beginning to show the sprouts of terrorism” and constituted an “existential threat” to the population of Hong Kong.

“One must take resolute action toward this violent criminality, showing no leniency or mercy,” spokesman Yang Guang said in the statement.

“Hong Kong has reached an inflection point where all those who are concerned about Hong Kong’s future must say ‘no,’ to lawbreakers and ‘no’ to those engaged in violence,” he added.

Earlier Monday, police showed off water cannons that could be deployed in the case of future demonstrations, a development that Amnesty International has warned could lead to serious injuries.

“Water cannons are not a toy for the Hong Kong police to deploy as a sign of strength,” Man-kei Tam, the group’s Hong Kong director, said in a statement.

“These are powerful weapons that are inherently indiscriminate and have the potential of causing serious injury and even death.”

The slogan “an eye for an eye” was plastered all over the airport – a reference to a female protester whose eye was injured during clashes with riot police who fired tear gas and beanbags on Sunday, according to CNN.

Protesters handed out lists to arriving visitors documenting alleged police violence.

“I just don’t understand how people can tolerate that kind of police brutality. I feel like if I don’t come out now, I can’t come out ever,” said Hilary Lo, an accounting firm worker, according to The Guardian.

Enlarge ImageProtesters wave flags at the Hong Kong International Airport.
Protesters wave flags at the Hong Kong International Airport.AP

“People are starting to realize the police are out of control, especially with what has happened in the past two weeks,” she added.

A police spokesman said there wasn’t enough evidence to determine the cause of the woman’s injury and that authorities won’t investigate unless someone files a report on the incident.

The Chinese-ruled territory faces its most serious crisis in decades, as Chinese leader Xi Jinping grapples with one of his largest popular challenges since he came to power in 2012.

The demonstrations began in opposition to a bill allowing extradition to the mainland but have widened to highlight other grievances.

Demonstrators say they are fighting the erosion of the “one country, two systems” arrangement that has provided some autonomy for Hong Kong when China took it back from Britain in 1997.

They are demanding the resignation of the city’s leader, Carrie Lam, and an independent probe into the handling of the protests.

With Post wires

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China: Protests, violence take toll on Hong Kong’s retail, tourism

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF SHANGHAI CHINA’S ‘SHINE’ NEWS NETWORK)

 

Protests, violence take toll on Hong Kong’s retail, tourism

Xinhua
Protests, violence take toll on Hong Kong's retail, tourism

Imaginechina

Tourists take photographs on the Victoria Harbour waterfront in Hong Kong, China, on May 24, 2019.

Weeks of protests and violent incidents have started to dent Hong Kong’s retail and tourism sectors, a key part of the economy of the Special Administrative Region.

Business owners and industry insiders expressed growing worries and uncertainties as the demonstrations and violence continued to weigh on consumption sentiment.

“Protests and violent incidents have forced me to close my shop for several weekends on end,” said an owner of a seafood store in Sai Wan on the Hong Kong Island, who only gave his surname Cheung. “Sales have badly dropped and I am losing quite some money.”

Cheung hoped that the demonstrations could end quickly. “It is important that the economy stays stable. We ordinary residents just want a peaceful life.”

The Hong Kong SAR government said on Thursday that the value of total retail sales in June 2019 decreased by 6.7 percent compared with the same month in 2018, as local consumer sentiment turned more cautious and growth in visitor arrivals moderated.

A government spokesman said the near-term performance of retail sales will likely remain subdued, citing weakened global and local economic outlook and other headwinds.

The spokesman added that the recent demonstrations, if continued, would also dent the retail business further.

According to the Hong Kong Retail Management Association, large-scale rallies and protests have dampened Hong Kong’s retail performance, with most of the members of the association recording single or double digit fall since June.

Wong Ka Wo, president of Hong Kong Federation of Restaurant and Related Trades, said weeks of protests have not only hurt visitor arrivals but also dampened consumption of local residents.

“The catering business is very important to Hong Kong. A declining willing to consume will put pressure on businesses and dent Hong Kong’s economy,” said Wong.

Visitor arrivals to Hong Kong totaled around 5.14 million in June, down about 770,000 from the figure in May, according to Hong Kong Tourism Board.

Hong Kong has seen steady tourism volume in the first five months of the year, but since June, the sector has been hit hard by multiple violent protests, and safety concerns mounted, said Yiu Si-wing, a lawmaker and tourism industry insider.

“Many have delayed or even cancelled their trips to Hong Kong,” he said.

For Hong Kong’s tourism sector, immediate recovery is not likely even if violence ceases soon, Yiu said.

But if violence continues, many of the tourism-related industries, including hospitality and retailing, will be hurting, and Hong Kong’s overall economy will suffer, he added.

Michael Li, executive director of the Federation of Hong Kong Hotel Owners, said the demonstrations in June have had an impact on Hong Kong’s tourism, with the overall hotel occupancy rate dropping about 2 percent.

He estimated that the occupancy rate for hotels near the protest areas in the Hong Kong Island would decrease more than 10 percent in July and those in Kowloon would drop 5 percent to 8 percent.

Moscow Police Detain Hundreds At Latest Election-Related Protest

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF NPR NEWS)

 

Moscow Police Detain Hundreds At Latest Election-Related Protest

Police officers detain opposition candidate and lawyer Lyubov Sobol in Moscow on Saturday. Sobol was one of more than 600 arrested in Saturday’s protests, according to an independent monitoring agency.

Dmitry Serebryakov/AP

Police detained 600 protesters in Moscow on Saturday, according to OVD-info, an independent group that monitors protests and policing in Russia.

Demonstrators in Moscow have been demanding that opposition candidates be allowed to register in city elections. Police arrested more than 1,000 people at an election-focused protest last week.

Reuters reporters in Moscow on Saturday said they witnessed dozens of arrests; OVD-info reports that police beat multiple demonstrators with clubs.

The Moscow City Duma is controlled by the pro-Kremlin United Russia party. All of its 45 seats, which carry five-year terms, are up for re-election on Sept. 8. The disagreement between protesters and election authorities hinges on the signature-gathering process for candidates. Election authorities say certain opposition candidates did not gather enough valid signatures on their nominating petitions to be eligible for the race. Opposition candidates and their supporters say signatures have been invalidated for political reasons, to hinder the democratic process and prevent anti-Kremlin candidates from getting on the ballot.

Lyubov Sobol, one of the opposition candidates who election officials say failed to qualify for the ballot, was one of the protesters arrested on Saturday. Sobol has been on hunger strike for 21 days, according to the BBC.

As NPR’s Lucian Kim has reported, the Moscow city elections have national significance; opponents of Russian President Vladimir Putin are trying to use local elections to chip away at his political support in advance of Russia’s 2024 presidential election.

“Moscow is the key,” Kim told Morning Edition last month. “It’s Russia’s largest city and is probably also the place where the opposition has a potentially large support base.”

According to Kim, a Putin spokesperson has said that though the Kremlin is following the developments, local elections remain under the jurisdiction of local authorities.

The Associated Press reported Saturday that Russia’s Investigative Committee plans to open a criminal case against the anti-corruption foundation of prominent opposition figure Alexei Navalny. Navalny is currently serving a 30-day jail sentence for his role in last week’s protest, and he recently raised the possibility that he had been poisoned while in custody.

Moscow’s police have been criticized for using violent methods to control protests. According to the BBC, Moscow Mayor Sergei Sobyanin said protesters last week“simply compelled the police to use force, which was perfectly appropriate for the situation.”

Fontanka.ru, a local news site, reported that 2,000 people rallied in St. Petersburg on Saturday to support protesters in Moscow. Local police said 1,000 were in attendance.

China Reacts to Trade Tariffs and Hong Kong Protests by Blaming U.S.

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE NEW YORK TIMES)

 

China Reacts to Trade Tariffs and Hong Kong Protests by Blaming U.S.

ImageChinese officials and news outlets have accused the United States of being behind the protests in Hong Kong.
Credit Lam Yik Fei for The New York Times

BEIJING — A popular news anchor watched by hundreds of millions of Chinese poured scorn on the United States, using an obscenity to accuse it of sowing chaos. A prominent official blamed Washington directly for the anti-government protests upending Hong Kong.

Pointed hostility toward America, voiced by Chinese officials and state-run news organizations under the control of an all-powerful propaganda department, has escalated in recent weeks in tandem with two of China’s big problems: a slowing economy complicated by trade tensions and turbulence in Hong Kong that has no end in sight.

“It is, after all, the work of the United States,” Hua Chunying, spokeswoman for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, said this week of the unrest in Hong Kong. Like other Chinese officials, she presented no evidence of American involvement in the demonstrations, which stem from worries over Beijing’s encroaching influence in the semi-autonomous region.

This is hardly the first time China has responded to domestic problems with frontal assaults on outsiders. Thirty years ago, Washington was accused of fomenting the pro-democracy upheavals on Tiananmen Square.

But after decades of working together on economic, technological and even military matters, China and the United States are going through a breakdown in relations that has turned increasingly adversarial.

Now, a dramatic singling out of the United States as a bad actor is setting a new anti-American tone for a domestic audience that is worried about jobs and sees Hong Kong as an island of ungrateful citizens.

This is deliberate on the part of the Chinese government, analysts said.

“Hong Kong is part of the bigger playbook to blame the United States for everything,” said Ho-fung Hung, a professor of international relations at Johns Hopkins University. “The Chinese government knows the Trump administration is not popular in the United States or in China, so it’s an easy scapegoat.”

[Meet the Trump-taunting editor at China’s “Fox News” who is a key voice in the trade war.]

After trade talks with the United States broke down in May, China was relatively polite toward Washington as the two sides considered their next steps. When Hong Kong protesters began marching regularly in June, drawing crowds that organizers estimated at up to two million, the Chinese state news media made scant mention of it.

ImageHua Chunying, a Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokeswoman, called the unrest in Hong Kong “the work of the United State.”
Credit European Press photo Agency

But now the gloves are off, with American and Chinese negotiators making little progress at talks in Shanghai this week. Just on Thursday, President Trump escalated the trade war, saying he would impose tariffs on an additional $300 billion worth of Chinese imports.

Beijing also does not appear to see an end to its differences with Washington over the Chinese telecommunications giant Huawei, which was blacklisted by the Trump administration as a security threat.

As the economic strains intensify, state news outlets are now depicting the demonstrations in Hong Kong as the work of Americans and other “foreign forces.”

In fact, Mr. Trump expressed respect for China’s sovereignty on Thursday, calling the protests “riots” when asked by reporters about the unrest. “Hong Kong is a part of China, they’ll have to deal with that themselves,” he said. “They don’t need advice.”

One of the most remarkable anti-American eruptions came last week when Kang Hui, one of China’s most recognized television news anchors, attacked the United States on-air as a hegemony that bullied and threatened others.

“They stir up more troubles and crave the whole world to be in chaos, acting like a shit-stirring stick,” Mr. Kang said on the usually stolid 7 p.m. national news program on CCTV, China’s state broadcaster. The expletive quickly became one of the most-searched-for phrases on Chinese social media.

In a follow-up video on a CCTV social media account, Mr. Kang boasted about how he had taunted the United States.

“If a handful of Americans always stir up troubles, then we are sorry,” he intoned. “No more do we talk about certain issues. We will also target you. We will bash you till your faces are covered with mud. We will bash you till you are left speechless.”

Image

A Huawei advertisement in Shanghai. The tech giant is at the center of one of China’s disputes with the United States.
Credit Lam Yik Fei for The New York Times

China began dialing up the anti-American comments after a meeting in Washington last month between Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Jimmy Lai, the publisher of Apple Daily, a pro-democracy newspaper in Hong Kong. A statement from the Chinese Foreign Ministry accused senior United States officials of having “ulterior motives.”

At the same time, prominent Chinese figures have become more public in their criticism of the Hong Kong protests, and more outlandish in their claims.

One professor accused the United States of encouraging pregnant women to appear at hot spots during demonstrations, as a tactic to confuse the police.

“They are obviously actors, not Hong Kong citizens,” said Wang Yiwei, a professor in the School of International Studies at Renmin University in Beijing.

In recent days, the barbed language has turned to the United States economy as well.

Ms. Hua, the Foreign Ministry spokeswoman, said at a briefing on Wednesday that the Chinese economy was in a far stronger position because it grew 6.2 percent in the second quarter, compared with 2.1 percent growth for the United States.

“Which one is better, 6.2 percent or 2.1 percent? I believe you all have a clear judgment,” she told a room full of Chinese and foreign reporters.

While the United States figure is far short of Mr. Trump’s 3 percent target, economic growth in China — which reported double-digit growth as recently as 2010 — is at a 27-year low.

CCTV is now regularly showing video of clashes between protesters and the police that suggest Hong Kong is in the throes of permanent rebellion. Chinese-backed news outlets in Hong Kong have published photographs of foreigners taken at or near the protests, including journalists, and accused them of being American government agents.

Image

Wang Huning, center, a propaganda specialist with a dim view of the United States, is on China’s Politburo Standing Committee, the highest tier of power.
Credit Wang Zhao/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

Such outbursts almost certainly have the blessing of China’s top leadership, analysts said.

One of President Xi Jinping’s closest confidants, Wang Huning, is a propaganda specialist who harbors a dim view of the United States and multiparty democracy in general.

Mr. Wang, the author of a book called “America Against America” about his visits to the United States in the 1980s, is one of the seven members of the Politburo Standing Committee, the highest level of political power in China. His views are likely to permeate the propaganda apparatus as it formulates the anti-American campaign.

“Blaming the U.S. for the trouble in Hong Kong signals a deliberate policy decision rather than an instinctive reaction,” said Minxin Pei, a professor of government at Claremont McKenna College in California. “It is highly unlikely that the use of such shrill rhetoric has not received endorsement from the top leadership.”

Beyond the specific issues of Hong Kong and trade, Mr. Pei said, the Chinese government is trying to construct a “mega-narrative” that portrays the United States as the “principal antagonist intent on not only thwarting China’s rise with the trade war but also fomenting trouble within Chinese borders.”

Media experts said that while the government rhetoric was probably effective in influencing the attitudes of Chinese people toward the United States, its precise impact was impossible to measure.

Since Hong Kong’s last sustained protest movement in 2014, the experts said, Beijing has become more sophisticated at controlling information from outside sources.

“Domestic platforms are heavily censored,” said Luwei Rose Luqiu, an assistant professor in the journalism department at Hong Kong Baptist University. “Only posts and comments in line with official ideology and rhetoric are allowed to exist.”

The propaganda machine has a powerful insulating effect on Chinese readers and viewers, said Lokman Tsui, an assistant professor in the school of journalism at the Chinese University of Hong Kong.

“Even when some Chinese people come across messaging that is contrary to the propaganda, they are inoculated enough to ‘resist’ these messages,” Mr. Tsui said.

Amber Wang contributed research.

A version of this article appears in print on , Section A, Page 9 of the New York edition with the headline: As Crisis Worsens in Hong Kong, Beijing’s Leaders Say U.S. Is to Blame. Order Reprints | Today’s Paper | Subscribe
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Man arrested for punching anti-Trump protester in the face

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE WASHINGTON EXAMINER)

 

Man arrested for punching anti-Trump protester in the face

A man was led away by police to chants of “lock him up” after being arrested for punching an anti-Trump demonstrator in the face.

Dallas Frazier, 29, is facing an assault charge for allegedly jumping out of his red pickup truck and punching 61-year-old protester Mike Alter in the head multiple times. The confrontation took place outside of the Cincinnati, Ohio, arena where President Trump spoke at a rally on Thursday night.

The incident was caught on video by another protester, Scott Fantozzi.

Alter spoke to WCPO9 after the altercation and said that he and a group of demonstrators were standing on the side of the road exchanging shouts with Trump supporters who were on the way to the rally. He then said a pickup truck rolled by, and Frazier began shouting at the group before getting out of the vehicle.

Police documents in the case say that the “suspect exited the vehicle, stated, ‘You want some,’ then struck the victim multiple times in the face.” Fantozzi claims he did not see the yelling and confrontation until Frazier arrived.

Frazier reportedly took off his hat after getting out of the vehicle and assumed a fighting position. Alter also removed his hat and gestured at Frazier.

“I was more questioning him” than trying to provoke him, Alter claimed in a text message. “Like really you want to fight?”

Frazier began to hit Alter three times before police rushed in to restrain him.

“[I thought,] ‘What the hell?’” Alter said. “He started just whaling on my head. I didn’t go down, for what that’s worth.”

Frazier was booked and faces an assault charge. Police said he was the only individual arrested Thursday night at the rally.

Thousands of anti-extradition protesters block roads surrounding Hong Kong government headquarters

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF ‘GLOBAL VOICES’)

 

Thousands of anti-extradition protesters block roads surrounding Hong Kong government headquarters

Protesters block roads surrounding government headquarters to stop the passing of extradition bill. Image from inmediahk.net. Used with permission.

On June 12, thousands of protesters blocked major roads surrounding Hong Kong’s government headquarters and legislature in the Admiralty district to prevent lawmakers from presenting amendments to a controversial extradition bill. The secretary of the Legislative Council announced that the scheduled session at 11:00 am would be deferred until further notice after lawmakers were unable to reach the Legislative Council Complex.

Venus Wu@wu_venus

This is not the 2014 . This is now.

Just after Sunday’s million-strong protest, the HK gov announced it would continue to push the . The parliament is to debate it today & this is the people’s way of stopping it.

Pic: Tanya Chan’s FB pic.twitter.com/UUzeK0tSRp

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The roadblock protests followed a June 9 rally where over a million people took to the streets against proposed amendments to the Fugitive Offenders and Mutual Legal Assistance in Criminal Matters Legislation (Amendment)  Bill. The proposed bill would provide legal grounds for the Chief Executive and local courts to handle case-by-case extradition requests from authorities in mainland China, Taiwan and Macau. Protesters believe that the amendments would make it easier for mainland China to arrest critics, dissidents, and even journalists in Hong Kong.

Soon after the rally, the government issued a statement stressing that the administration will continue to proceed with the second reading of the bill on June 12. The government’s hard-line stance triggered a round of violent clashes between the police and hundreds of young protesters who gathered outside the Legislative Council on June 10.

Confrontation after midnight on June 10. Image from Stand News. Used with permission.

The police arrested 31 protesters and took records of the identity of 358 protesters who stayed overnight after the rally. About 80 percent of them are between 16 to 25-years-old.

On June 10, Chief Executive Carrie Lam continued defending the bill and stressed Hong Kong is “duty-bound to address that deficiency”. The president of the Legislature, Andrew Leung, decided that Hong Kong lawmakers would have to vote on the controversial bill by June 20.

The organizer of the Sunday rally, Civil Human Rights Front, called for another round of protests outside the government headquarters to paralyze the government starting on June 12. Student unions from seven Hong Kong tertiary institutions, including Chinese University and Baptist University, have called for students to boycott classes and join the rally. Over a hundred Hong Kong employers from across industry sectors have pledged to either suspend business or support employees who choose to strike.

About 2,000 protesters gathered overnight outside the Legislative Council on June 11 and more protesters joined them the next morning. At around 8:00 am, thousands of protesters occupied major roads (namely Lung Wo Road and Harcourt Road) surrounding the Legislative Council Building. Jerome Taylor, Hong Kong/Taiwan/Macau bureau chief for AFP, reported on Twitter:

Jerome Taylor

@JeromeTaylor

The crowds on Harcourt Road — this is a major artery through the island that passes just next to the city’s parliament

View image on Twitter

Jerome Taylor

@JeromeTaylor

Pepper spray deployed again pic.twitter.com/1wNCzqrYre

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Although the protester’s blockade was able to push back the scheduled session on the morning of June 12, house rules allow the Legislative Council president to resume the meeting with only one hour’s notice.

White supremacists crash Arkansas Holocaust memorial event

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE TIMES OF ISRAEL)

 

White supremacists crash Arkansas Holocaust memorial event

Protesters in Russellville carry anti-Semitic signs, including one calling Shoah a hoax, in demonstration ostensibly aimed against ADL

White Supremacists protesting a Holocaust memorial in Russellville, Arkansas, May 5, 2019.  (screen capture: YouTube)

White Supremacists protesting a Holocaust memorial in Russellville, Arkansas, May 5, 2019. (screen capture: YouTube)

A Holocaust Remembrance Day event in Russellville, Arkansas, Sunday was interrupted by protesters bearing anti-Semitic signs, including one that read “The Holocaust didn’t happen, but it should have.”

Bearing crosses, a large portrait of Jesus and Christian and Nazi flags, the protester’s anti-Semitic signs also included one reading “YHWH has the oven preheated.”

Joyce Griffis, who organized the event, told KSFM that the demonstrators “were talking to us like we were pieces of nothing.”

Among those at the event were Sir Beryl Wolfson, 96, who shared his story of witnessing the liberation of Holocaust concentration camps while wearing a World War II Veteran cap and Star of David belt buckle.

The demonstrators were affiliated with Shieldwall, a local white supremacist group, and ostensibly were protesting the Anti-Defamation League, Shieldwall spokesman Billy Roper told KSFM.

The son and grandson of Klansmen, Roper is “a nonsectarian hater” affiliated with many white nationalist groups, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center.

In April, the ADL criticized Arkansas Tech University for naming a scholarship in honor of Dr. Michael Link, whom the ADL wrote “repeatedly espoused Holocaust denial and anti-Semitism to his students and in his writing.”

Arkansas Tech said it has found no evidence of these claims.

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IDF: Over 100 bombs, grenades hurled at troops during Friday’s Gaza riots

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE TIMES OF ISRAEL)

 

IDF: Over 100 bombs, grenades hurled at troops during Friday’s Gaza riots

Military says it is working on detonating duds, releases footage of attempts to breach and sabotage border fence during rallies in which 7 Palestinians reported killed

Over 100 improvised bombs and grenades were hurled at Israeli troops during Friday’s riots at the Gaza border, the military said Saturday.

The army released footage of the violent demonstrations, which it said were the worst in two months, depicting attempts to breach and sabotage the security fence.

It also said IDF forces were still engaged in the controlled detonation of unexploded bombs and grenades.

Meanwhile in Gaza Saturday funerals were held for the seven Palestinians killed in the previous day’s violence, including two teen boys.

Mourners carry the body of Mohammed al-Houm, 14, who was killed during a violent protest along the Israel-Gaza border, during his funeral in the Bureij refugee camp, in central Gaza on September 29, 2018. (AFP PHOTO / Anas BABA)

Tens of thousands of Palestinians protested along the Gaza border fence, throwing hand grenades, bombs, rocks, and burning tires in clashes with IDF troops, who responded with tear gas, live fire, and air strikes.

almog boker@bokeralmog

רימונים שנזרקו אותם לעבר כוחותצהל במהלך הפרות הסדר בגבול הרצועה.
הפיצוצים שיישמעו בשעות הקרובות בעוטף עזה תוצאה של נטרול וזיכוי המטענים שנזרקו אותם לכיוון החיילים.

The protest was one of the largest and most violent in recent weeks and comes following the break down of indirect talks with Israel over a cease-fire and warnings that the terror group Hamas, which rules Gaza, was gearing up for another conflict.

חדשות עשר

@news10

רצועת עזה: תיעוד של ההפגנות שהתרחשו אתמול מהצד הפלסטיני של גדר המערכת שבה לקחו חלק כ-20 אלף מפגינים. במהלך ההפגנה הושלכו למעלה מ-100 מטענים מאולתרים ורימוני נפץ לעבר לוחמי צה”ל וגדר המערכת @OrHeller

Seven people were killed, including a 12-year-old and a 14-year-old, and at least 210 Palestinians were wounded, including an 11-year-old boy, who was in a serious condition, according to the Hamas-run Gaza health ministry. It said 90 of the wounded were hit by live fire.

The ministry identified three of the dead as Nasser Mosabih, 12, Mohammed al-Houm, 14, and Iyad Al-Shaar, 18, and said they were shot. The other four were in their twenties.

The IDF said about 20,000 Palestinians took part in violent protests, spread out among a few locations along the Gaza security fence.

Palestinians react as tear gas canisters fired by Israeli forces rain down during clashes along the Israeli border fence, east of Gaza City on September 28, 2018. (AFP PHOTO / SAID KHATIB)

In two cases IAF aircraft carried out strikes against grenade throwers, the army said, noting there were no injuries to IDF forces.

One of the strikes was on a Hamas post, the army said.

IDF troops also responded with tear gas and other less-lethal riot dispersal means as well as live fire “in accordance with the rules of engagement,” the army said.

Also, Palestinians launched several fire balloons into Israel, causing at least 16 blazes near Israeli towns near the Gaza Strip, a spokesman for the Israeli Fire and Rescue Services said. Firefighters were working to extinguish them.

The UN called Saturday for Israel and Hamas to rein in the violence. “I am deeply saddened by reports that seven Palestinians, including two children, were killed, and hundreds of others injured, by Israeli forces during demonstrations in the Gaza Strip yesterday (Friday),” the UN’s humanitarian coordinator for the Palestinian territories, Jamie McGoldrick, said in a statement. “I call on Israel, Hamas and all other actors with the ability to influence the situation, to take action now to prevent further deterioration and loss of life.”

The riots have increased in recent weeks, going from a weekly event to near nightly protests since Hamas halted indirect talks with Israel aimed at a ceasefire. The humanitarian crisis in Gaza has also worsened and reconciliation talks with the Palestinian Authority have broken down.

Hamas, which rules the Gaza Strip and actively calls for Israel’s destruction, has increased the pace of rioting and demonstrations against Israel, and created new units tasked with sustaining tensions along the border fence including during nighttime and early morning hours.

Almost every evening, thousands of Gazan’s now gather for violent demonstrations at the Erez crossing and elsewhere, as part of Hamas’s attempts to signal to Israel that it wants an economic solution to the Gaza Strip.

The Egyptian efforts to reconcile Hamas and Fatah have not borne fruit at this stage, and the possibility of a long-term ceasefire with Israel has apparently stalled, Thursday’s analysis by Times of Israel’s Avi Issacaharoff said. The economic situation has once again reached an unprecedented low, stoking fury among Gazan’s that is being directed against Israel, the PA, Hamas, and even Egypt.

On Friday, the Haaretz daily quoted Israeli security sources as saying that Hamas is preparing for war, bolstering its forces significantly over the past few weeks.

That assessment is not new, IDF sources told Haaretz, having warned repeatedly that the situation is more likely to escalate than to calm down. However, recently the army noted that the terror group appears to actively be readying itself for a limited conflict with Israel. It is only a question of when Hamas will decide to go to war, the paper said.

Israeli officials believe there are two main causes pushing Hamas toward military escalation, the newspaper report said — the failed reconciliation talks with PA President Mahmoud Abbas’s Fatah party, which controls the West Bank and has maintains a choke hold on Gaza’s finances in a bid to pressure Hamas to cede control of the territory; and the ongoing humanitarian crisis of the enclave under the Israeli-Egyptian blockade, made worse in recent months by the US slashing its aid to the PA and its funding for UNRWA, the UN body responsible for the welfare of Palestinian refugees, which funds schools and major relief projects in the Strip.

A Palestinian woman walks past a closed health center that run by United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) during a strike of all UNRWA institutions in Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip on September 24, 2018. (AFP/Said Khatib)

The surge of violence in Gaza began in March with a series of protests along the border that were dubbed the “March of Return.” The clashes have included regular rock and Molotov cocktail attacks on troops, as well as shooting and IED attacks aimed at IDF soldiers and attempts to breach the border fence.

Gaza protesters have also launched incendiary kites and balloons into Israel, sparking fires that have destroyed forests, burned crops, and killed livestock. Over 7,000 acres of land have been burned, causing millions of shekels in damages, according to Israeli officials. Some balloons have carried improvised explosive devices.

Israeli fire has killed at least 140 Palestinians during the protests since late March, according to AP figures. Hamas has acknowledged that dozens of the fatalities were its members.

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The Hypocrisy Belongs To Some In The “LGBT” Community, Not To The Chicago Cubs

The Hypocrisy Belongs To Some In The “LGBT” Community, Not To The Chicago Cubs

 

This morning I had every intent to write an article about fallen Senator John McCain and I hope that I will still have the energy to do so after I finish this article first. I got up out of bed about 4 A.M. this morning and came out to my computer aiming to write the McCain article but as is normal I read some of the events I find on my computers main pages first. You know, things like I want to know if our “Mafia in Chief President” has started anymore new wars before I try to get my day started. To the best of my knowledge he has not so I then went on to some MLB Web-Sites as I am still somewhat of a baseball fan, not as much as when I was a kid, but it is still my favorite sport. I read an article from Yahoo-Sports that changed my thoughts about my first column today. My article about John McCain is still more important to me but it is going to be a mostly ‘positive’ article and this one on the Cubs (my life long favorite team) has more negative energy in it so I have decided to write this one first, to get the negatives out of my thought patterns.

 

In an article dated yesterday afternoon (August 26th, 2018) on Yahoo-Sports written by Blake Schuster was an article about the recent trade that the Chicago Cubs made with the Washington Nationals for second baseman Daniel Murphy. Even though I have known of Mr. Murphy for several years I have only known of him from a ‘Baseball-Stats’ prospective, nothing about his personal life, either good or bad. By his stats I would say that I consider him an above average overall second baseman so I had no problem with the Cubs trading for him. But here is the ‘rub’ of the Yahoo-Sports article, evidently about 3 years ago he made some comments about the LGBT-Gay lifestyle that still to this day offends many folks who believe that this lifestyle is a perfectly fine way of life. Guess what folks, not everyone on the planet happens to agree wit you about it being an ‘okay’ way to live. Learn to deal with this reality, it is you being the hypocrites here, not Mr. Murphy.

 

About 3 years ago Mr. Murphy evidently said that he “disagreed with the gay lifestyle” so now it seems that many people in that community really do not like him. This seems to even go to the extent that they would prefer that Mr. Murphy wasn’t able to earn a living in his preferred profession as a major league baseball player. There is a rather large group of people in the Chicago land area who call themselves the “Out At Wrigley” LGBT organization. Yesterday was the ’18th annual LGBT original MLB Gay Day.’ As it turns out (I did not know of this fact until I read this Yahoo article) that one of the Ricketts family who owns the Cubs is an openly gay lady, Ms. Laura Ricketts. Some folks in the LGBT groups decided to wait to give their opinion on the trade for Mr. Murphy until Ms. Laura weighed in with her opinion on the issue. Other folks within the LGBT community there in the Chicago Land area weren’t quite so kind or patient. There will be some folks who read this article who will be mad at me and even call me a hypocrite and some other names for writing this article and for daring to have an opinion different from their own concerning the LGBT life style. My official opinion is that “I, just like Mr. Murphy, do disagree with the LGBT-Queer Lifestyle being an okay lifestyle.”

 

There are many who may well say things along the line of “why should I give a damn about what you have to say, your just an old white boy in Kentucky.” To this I say, exactly. Why should you care what I have to say if I disagree with you, but then again why am I suppose to care what you think or feel about this issue either? Now a third line of thought on this ‘caring’ issue, why should you or I care what Mr. Murphy’s thoughts or feelings are on this issue? He is a baseball player, concerning the Cubs trade for him, only what he does on the field should matter to any of us. Now, if Mr. Murphy was wearing a bright neon tea-shirt in the pregame fielding and batting practice that blared out something like “I hate Gay people” then yes, you should probably take offence to him doing that. Personally I would take offence to him doing that myself, just as I would if he or any other player decided to wear a dress out on the field. He is there to play baseball, he is paid to play baseball, if he has an opinion that is different from yours or mine on the “Gay issue,” so what!

 

There are probably a few folks in their anger at me for not having the same opinion as their, or for daring to state my beliefs who will bring up other ‘incidents’ to see if I feel the same way toward those folks. What I am getting at is that some folks will, in their anger, say things like, well I bet you would be okay with Murphy if he was a wife beater or a child molester too, as long as he was a good baseball player. Folks, that is stupid, being a wife beater or being a child molester is actually illegal, disagreeing with you about if a person agrees with or disagrees with your LGBT lifestyle is not ‘yet’ illegal. We do have something in the Constitution of the United States (First Amendment) saying that we the people are allowed to have free speech in this Country whether you happen to like it or not. Not everyone is going to agree with you, or me, on everything, grow up, learn to deal with reality just as those who don’t agree with you also have to do!

Tel Aviv readies for Druze-led mass protest over controversial nation-state law

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE TIMES OF ISRAEL)

((OPED BY OLDPOET56)) I AM A CHRISTIAN WHO LIVES IN THE UNITED STATES BUT IF I WERE EVER ABLE TO AFFORD TO MOVE TO ISRAEL I WOULD STILL HAVE TO AGREE THAT ISRAEL IS A “JEWISH STATE”. ISRAEL WAS, IS AND WILL ALWAYS BE A ‘JEWISH STATE’ UNTIL THE SECOND ADVENT. THIS IS JUST AN OLD MANS OPINION WHOM HAS STUDIED THE BIBLE SINCE ABOUT 1966.)

Tel Aviv readies for Druze-led mass protest over controversial nation-state law

Organizers say tens of thousands expected in Rabin Square to demonstrate against legislation criticized as discriminatory toward Israel’s minorities

Activists and supporters of the Druze community in Israel at a protest tent against the nation-state law passed by the Knesset in July 2018, in Tel Aviv's Rabin Square on August 1, 2018. In the background is a five-colored Druze religious flag representing five wise prophets of Al-Mowahideen (Tomer Neuberg/Flash90)

Activists and supporters of the Druze community in Israel at a protest tent against the nation-state law passed by the Knesset in July 2018, in Tel Aviv’s Rabin Square on August 1, 2018. In the background is a five-colored Druze religious flag representing five wise prophets of Al-Mowahideen (Tomer Neuberg/Flash90)

Tens of thousands of people are expected to gather in Tel Aviv’s Rabin Square Saturday evening for a mass demonstration against the controversial Jewish nation-state law. Among the key organizers of the rally are leaders of the Druze community, whose members serve in the Israeli army and who have expressed particular outrage at the law’s provisions, saying it renders them second-class citizens.

The nation-state law — which for the first time enshrines Israel as “the national home of the Jewish people” and says “the right to exercise national self-determination in the State of Israel is unique to the Jewish people” — has sparked widespread criticism from Israel’s minorities and opposition, the international community, and Jewish groups abroad.

Participants and speakers at the rally are expected to include the Druze community’s top spiritual leader, Sheikh Muafak Tarif, Brig. Gen. (res.) Amal As’ad, former Shabak heads Yuval Diskin and Ami Ayalon, Tel Aviv Mayor Ron Huldai, former Mossad head Tamir Pardo, and TV host and social commentator Lucy Aharish.

Police announced that from 18:30 (6:30 p.m.) the following streets will be blocked: Ibn Gvirol between Arlozorov and Shaul HaMelech, David HaMelech from Weizmann to Ibn Gvirol, Frishman from Masaryk Square to Ibn Gvirol, and Bloch from Arlozorov to Ibn Gvirol.

Organizers of the protest, slated to begin at 20:30 (8:30 p.m.), set up a protest tent in the square a week ago so that passers-by could discuss the law.

Activists and supporters of the Druze community in Israel set up a protest tent in Tel Aviv on August 1, 2018. ( Tomer Neuberg/Flash90)

The nation-state law has been criticized as discriminatory toward Israel’s non-Jewish minorities, and also downgrades the status of Arabic so that it is no longer an official language in Israel.

The legislation has prompted particular outrage from the Druze community, which takes pride in its service in the Israel Defense Forces.

Unlike Arab Israelis, members of both the Druze and Circassian minorities are subject to Israel’s mandatory draft and serve in large numbers alongside Jewish soldiers in some of the IDF’s most elite units.

Since the beginning of the week, several Druze IDF officers have said they will resign their commissions in protest of the legislation, which was passed as a Basic Law on July 19.

People take part at a protest march against the proposed Nation-state Law in Tel Aviv on July 14, 2018. (Tomer Neuberg/Flash90)

On Thursday, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu angrily walked out of a meeting with Druze leaders when a prominent Druze activist and former IDF brigadier general criticized the controversial nation-state law passed last month.

Netanyahu was apparently enraged by Brig. Gen. (res.) Amal As’ad accusing him of turning Israel into an “apartheid state” and calling the law “evil and racist.”

Brig. Gen. (res.) Amal As’ad. (Hadashot TV screen capture)

As’ad on Friday told Hadashot news he said no such thing, implying Netanyahu was looking for an excuse to end the meeting.

“I wrote a post 10 days ago in which I wrote that if that law is realized Israel is on the path to apartheid, and I’m not the only one saying that,” he said.  He also insisted that he had not crashed the meeting, contrary to some accounts.

But Tourism Minister Yariv Levin, who was in the meeting, disputed his account.

“I heard with my own ears the outrageous statement that Israel is an apartheid state,” said Levin.

As’ad, a former infantry commander and veteran of multiple wars who lost a brother in fighting in the Gaza Strip, in the past expressed support for the Likud party. He has been active in initiatives to commemorate the sacrifices of Druze IDF soldiers.

He urged Druze to come to Tel Aviv on Saturday and take part in the protest. “Tomorrow’s demonstration is for the state of Israel, not against it,” As’ad said.

Netanyahu has been trying to placate Druze anger at the new law with a package of benefits.

A concession plan envisions new legislation to anchor the status of the Druze and Circassian communities in law and provide benefits to members of minority groups who serve in the security forces, the PMO said in a statement Wednesday. Support of Druze religious, education, and culture institutes would also be included in the legislation.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, 2r, meets with the spiritual leader of the Druze community in Israel, Sheikh Muafak Tarif, 2l, at the Prime Minister’s Office in Jerusalem on July 27, 2018. (Kobi Gideon/GPO)

In addition, recognition of the contribution made by all minorities and communities that participate in the defense of the state would be written into the country’s Basic Laws.

In an apparent protest against the legislation, President Reuven Rivlin has reportedly vowed to sign the nation-state law in Arabic. Dr. Thabet Abu Rass of the Abraham Fund, which supports Jewish-Bedouin coexistence, claimed Monday that Rivlin made the comment at the sidelines of a conference in the Bedouin village of Kuseife that aimed to bolster employment rates in the Arab community.

A spokesperson for Rivlin on Tuesday declined a Times of Israel request to confirm or comment on the matter.

On Sunday, Rivlin met with regional council heads from the Druze community, who also slammed the law. He told them that “our partnership exists at the core and foundation of this state.”

“I expressed my opinion during the Knesset discussions,” he added. “I have no doubt that you are legally equal, and we should make sure that you also feel equal.”

The legislation, proponents say, puts Jewish values and democratic values on equal footing. Critics, however, say the law effectively discriminates against Israel’s Arabs and other minority communities. The law became one of the Basic Laws, which, similar to a constitution, underpin Israel’s legal system and are more difficult to repeal than regular laws.

Last month, thousands rallied in Tel Aviv’s Rabin Square to protest the exclusion of gay couples from a recently passed surrogacy law. Gay rights advocates and their supporters also observed an unprecedented one-day strike throughout the country.

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