North Korea fired shots across its border with South Korea — just hours after Kim Jong Un made his first public appearance since rumors of his death., Business Insider – Business Insider Singapore

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North and South Korean forces briefly exchanged fire across the warring nations’ troubled border Sunday, just hours after Kim Jong Un made his appearance in public for several weeks after rumors of his possible death.

South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff said in a Sunday statement that at 7.41 a.m. local time that multiple shots were fired from the North Korean side of the border towards a guard post in the south.

The incident took place in the demilitarized zone between the two countries, near the city of Cheorwon, which is on the South Korean side of the border.

South Korean military personnel said they responded to the shots by returning “two rounds of gunfire and a warning announcement according to our manual,” according to the BBC.

Officials went on to say that they did not believe that the shots were an official provocation as they came from farmland and it was a foggy morning.

“In absence of vision [for the target] and in the fog, would there be an accurate provocation?” – the official said, according to Reuters.

The approximate location of where the gunfire incident happened.

The incident on the fiercely defended border came the morning after North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un appeared to make a first outing in public in several weeks, following widely circulated rumors that he was gravely ill or possibly even dead.

North Korean state media released images of the country’s leader, Kim Jong Un, making his first public appearance after weeks of speculation about his health and whereabouts.

Kim attended the completion ceremony of a fertilizer plant north of the capital, Pyongyang on Saturday, marking his first public appearance since April 11, photos published by official state media outlets appeared to show.

Business Insider has not confirmed the authenticity of the images, or whether they were actually taken on Saturday.

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un attends the completion of a fertilizer plant, together with his younger sister Kim Yo Jong, in a region north of the capital, Pyongyang, in this image released by North Korea's Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) on May 2, 2020.

As well as rumors of his death, it has also been speculated that Kim’s absence was down to him having heart surgery. Footage of Kim during his outing in Pyongyang Saturday appeared to show a black circular mark on his wrist, which some media outlets speculated is a sign he has had surgery.

Senior officials in South Korea said that they do not believe this is the case.

“There were speculative reports that Chairman Kim underwent a surgery citing some difference to his walk,” a senior official said, according to Reuters.

“We have reasons to believe that there was no surgery, but cannot disclose such details.”

A screenshot from a Mail Online video pointing to the supposed needle mark on Kim's wrist.

As Kim appeared to reemerge after his period of absence from public life – which some have linked to possible fears about the North Korean leader contracting coronavirus – Britain’s Daily Mirror reported that there are fears he could embark on a campaign of executions and military brinkmanship as a means of reasserting his strongman image.

The newspaper reported that Kim is “likely to order a ‘wave of public executions’ and fresh nuclear threats against the West to re-establish credibility after being off grid for weeks.”

The Mirror cited an unnamed western security source as saying: “I believe we could expect a violent taking out of any perceived threat amongst Kim’s inner-circle.”

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Bagpipe-playing Canadian turns up at long-lost uncle’s home on Christmas Day – Nottinghamshire Live

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A Long Eaton man has described his shock at the moment a long-lost relative turned up at his home playing the bagpipes.

Tom Russell of Long Eaton had a Christmas Day he will never forget, when his half nephew flew in all the way from Canada to surprise him.

The 74-year-old told Derbyshire Live he began researching his family tree after he retired in 2010.

After finding a distant relative through Facebook, he had no idea of what lay in store.

He said: “Over the years I was successful in finding most of my relatives in the UK, Ireland and Italy, with the help of family members and, of course, the Internet.

“The one missing part was my father’s family, and all I had was the fact he was in the Canadian army during WW2, and based in England.”

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The former Royal Mail worker said his father Thomas Hutchinson, who was his half nephew’s grandfather, fought in both world wars.

Mr Hutchinson had moved to Canada from Dundee after the end of the First World War before returning to Britain close to the start of the Second World War.

After Mr Russell was born, his father was unable to take him back to Canada and after his mother lost her job, he was adopted in Britain.

With the help of his daughter, Mr Russell managed to use Facebook to make contact with someone in Canada using his father’s military rank of Regimental Sergeant Major.

bagpipe player

Through “discreet enquiries” to the contact – who was in fact his half nephew Brian Hutchinson – he found “various small details and dates (about his father) matched”.

Mr Russell added: “As the contact was now very intrigued, I revealed the reason for my veiled questioning, at which point he became very excited as he had for some years thought there was something he didn’t know.

“We investigated further to the point we did a DNA test which proved a perfect match.”

But for Mr Russell, the “biggest shock” was yet to come.

On Christmas Day 2019, Mr Russell’s half nephew, Brian Hutchinson, now in his 60s, turn up outside his front door playing the bagpipes, having flown in overnight from Toronto.

The pair then celebrated New Year’s Eve together before Mr Hutchinson went off to visit different areas in England, including Nottingham and York. Before heading home to Woodstock, Ontario, he is planning to visit London.

Watching the “accomplished” bagpipe player arrive was almost too much for Mr Russell who said he “virtually collapsed in a heap”.

“I’m still very emotional about it,” he said. “The rest of the family were in on it whilst I was kept in the dark like a mushroom.”

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Trump’s death march to November: If they’re not his voters, let ’em die | Salon.com

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If you listen to Donald Trump, before him there was nothing.

According to Trump, before he was elected, the United States military, which was fighting wars in two countries, confronting foreign navies on the high seas, launching drone attacks willy-nilly, and had soldiers stationed in more than 100 outposts around the world, had no ammunition. In the Rose Garden on March 30, Trump said, “I’ll never forget the day when a general came and said, ‘Sir’ — my first week in office — ‘we have no ammunition.'” 

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On Oct. 9 of last year, he told the same story: “When I took over our military, we didn’t have ammunition. I was told by a top general — maybe the top of them all — ‘Sir, I’m sorry. Sir, we don’t have ammunition.’ I said, ‘I’ll never let another president have that happen to him or her.’ We didn’t have ammunition.” 

But now that Trump is in charge, according to him, “We have so much ammunition. You wouldn’t believe it, how much ammunition we have.”

Before Trump, we had no supplies of any kind: “The shelves were bare,” he has told us over and over at his coronavirus briefings. The shelves he’s referring to are those of the national stockpile of emergency medical equipment, the same shelves we’ve seen in photographs of a warehouse stacked with pallets filled with medical equipment, all of which has been there for years. But according to Trump, before he came along “the shelves were empty.”

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Fuhgettaboutit it when it comes to testing for the coronavirus. “We took over a dead, barren system,” Trump told “Fox & Friends” on March 30. “We inherited a broken test.”  The “broken” test was created in February of this year by Trump’s Centers for Disease Control. 

At his briefing on April 18, Trump said, “I inherited broken junk. Just as they did with ventilators where we had virtually none, and the hospitals were empty.”

But not to worry, he reassured us at his briefing on Wednesday, when it comes to testing now, “We’re doing it at a level that’s never been done before. We’ve got ventilators like you’ve never seen before.” 

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There is so much about Trump like we’ve never seen before. 

We have never seen hospitals so crowded that patients in their beds are lined up in hallways outside emergency rooms and intensive care units because those rooms are full. We have never seen refrigerated trucks lined up behind hospitals to carry away bodies from overloaded morgues. We have never seen doctors standing mute in the White House while a president of the United States stood before television cameras and advocated bringing ultraviolet light “inside the body,” and injecting patients with disinfectants like isopropyl alcohol and bleach, medical “experiments” that were carried out on Jews by Nazi doctors in places like Dachau and Buchenwald. 

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Before Trump, we have never seen 26.5 million people apply for unemployment benefits in just five weeks. Before Trump, we have never seen 50,000 Americans perish from a virus for which the United States government was singularly unprepared. 

Before Trump, we have never seen a president who wakes up every day at 5 a.m. and obsessively watches television and sends out dozens of tweets all morning and waits until noon to descend from his living quarters to go to work in the West Wing. We have never seen a president who told more than 16,000 lies in his first three years in office, an average of nearly 15 a day. 

Before Trump, we have never seen a president change the color of his aerosol-sprayed hair three times in three days, from yellow to gray and back to yellow again. 

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Before Trump, we have never seen an election when people may have to risk becoming infected with the coronavirus to go to the polls, the way voters did in Wisconsin two weeks ago.

Before Trump, Republicans suppressed Democratic votes with ID requirements and closed polls and registration purges. Before Trump, we have never seen tens of thousands prevented from voting because they’re dead and buried in the ground. 

Has Trump decided to use the coronavirus to win in November?

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It sure looks that way. The tip-off came with Trump’s wild swing between Wednesday and Thursday over opening businesses in Georgia. On Wednesday, Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp was a genius for allowing businesses like massage parlors and nail salons to open on Friday, with restaurants and bars opening on Monday. But less than 24 hours later, Trump had changed his mind. 

“I wasn’t happy with Brian Kemp. I wasn’t at all happy,” Trump announced from the podium at the Thursday briefing. What had happened overnight to sour Trump on “liberating” Georgia? “Trump’s sudden shift came only after top health advisers reviewed the plan more closely and persuaded the president that Kemp was risking further spread of the virus by moving too quickly,” the Associated Press reported on Friday.

That same morning, the New York Times published a front page story with another clue right there in the title: “No Rallies and No Golf, Just the TV to Rankle Him: Feeling Alone, President stews Over Image.” Buried in the story was the news that among the few calls a frustrated Trump agrees to take as he molders away in the White House are from his campaign manager, Brad Parscale. After Trump has heard the bad news about the coronavirus from his medical experts at his daily press briefing, what do Trump and Parscale discuss? “The latest polling data,” the Times reports. 

Bingo. At six o’clock he’s hearing that the body count has hit 50,000. At nine, he’s hearing how far he is behind Biden in the key swing states of Florida, Michigan, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and Ohio. If he’s running behind now, with 50,000 dead, what’s it going to look like in October or November when the number tops 100,000?

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Trump is balancing the grim news from his medical experts against the equally grim news from his campaign manager. When the choice is between dead people or his reelection, it’s an easy call. He is going to let it rip. His poll numbers are already so bad, he doesn’t have anything to lose. What’s another 50,000 to 100,000 dead compared to four more years of profiteering from the White House?

But the key to Trump’s plan is who dies. Watch the way he plays the game as the rest of the states make plans to reopen. He’s seen the facts and figures that social distancing works. He knows opening the economy will cost lives. He’s going to be very, very careful with states he expects to carry, but narrowly, like Georgia. The states that are a lock for Trump, or the states he doesn’t stand a chance in? Let them rip. Get the dying out of the way now. Maybe by the fall the coronavirus infection numbers will go down, maybe not.  

The number of those killed won’t go down, but Trump doesn’t give a shit. He’s not the president of the United States. He’s the president of the Confederate States of MAGA. All he wants to do is win. If they’re not Trump’s voters, let ’em die

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UK’s coronavirus death toll rises by 684 to 3,605 in biggest jump yet – Mirror Online

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The UK’s coronavirus death toll has soared to 3,605 after 684 patients died in just 24 hours – the biggest single day increase yet.

The figure does not include people who have died at home. The previous total stood at 2,921 deaths.

The number of confirmed cases has increased to 38,168 after 4,450 more people tested positive.

Most of the deaths have been in England (3,244), followed by Scotland (172), Wales (141) and Northern Ireland (48).

Two NHS nurses, who were both mothers in their 30s with three young children, are among the latest patients to die after battling Covid-19 in hospital.

The grim news came as Health Secretary Matt Hancock, who is back at work after battling the virus, said the Government expects the virus to peak in Britain in the next few weeks and Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who is still infected with Covid-19 and isolating, urged people to stick with social distancing in a bid to flatten the curve.

Have you been affected by coronavirus? Email webnews@mirror.co.uk.

Aimee O'Rourke

The Department of Health said: “As of 9am on 3 April 2020, 173,784 people have been tested, of which 38,168 were confirmed positive.

“As of 5pm on 2 April 2020, of those hospitalised in the UK who tested positive for coronavirus, 3,605 have died.”

Public Health England said 11,764 tests were carried out on Thursday in England, while testing capacity for inpatient care in the country currently stands at 12,799 tests per day.

Two NHS nurses were among the latest patients to die.

BBC Radio 4

Mum-of-three Areema Nasreen, 36, was in intensive care on a ventilator after testing positive for the virus.

She worked at Walsall Manor Hospital in the West Midlands.

In Kent, Aimee O’Rourke, 38, died at the Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother Hospital in Margate, where she worked.

The mum-of-three was hailed as a “brave angel” as her family said in a tribute: “Aimee was a beautiful woman and a valued NHS nurse.”

Boris Johnson

More than 10,000 tests carried out

Friday’s figures from the Department of Health show that for the second day running more than 10,000 new people were tested in the UK for coronavirus.

A total of 10,590 new people were reported as being tested in the 24 hours to 9am April 3.

The equivalent figure for April 2 was 10,215.

The total number of people in the UK tested since the outbreak began is now 173,784.

This is the equivalent of around 261 people in every 100,000, or 0.3% of the population.

The number of coronavirus-related hospital deaths reported by the Department of Health stood at 3,605 as of 5pm April 2.

It took 19 days for this number to pass 300. It has taken further 11 days to pass 3,000.

Meanwhile, the number of confirmed cases of coronavirus in the UK has taken two weeks to go from just under 4,000 (3,983 as of 9am March 20) to just under 40,000 (38,168 as of 9am April 3).

Commenting on the death of Ms Nasreen, Mr Hancock said: “I pay tribute to the NHS staff who’ve died serving the NHS, serving the nation.

“It shows the incredible bravery of every member of the NHS who goes into work knowing that these dangers are there.

“I think it is a testament to every doctor and nurse and paramedic and other health professional who is working in the NHS in these difficult times.

“And I think the whole nation is grateful.”

About 35,000 front-line NHS staff are not currently in work due to coronavirus, said Mr Hancock.

He said testing figures for health staff “should” rise to thousands a day in the next few weeks.

The Government has set a goal of testing 100,000 people a day across the whole of the UK by the end of April following widespread criticism of its testing strategy.

The Prime Minister’s spokesman said the 5,000-plus NHS staff who had been tested had mainly been tested at new testing sites.

Health Secretary

A total of 172 patients have died in Scotland after testing positive for coronavirus, up by 46 from 126 on Thursday.

3,001 people have now tested positive for the virus in Scotland, up from 2,602 the day before.

Officials said 176 people are in intensive care with coronavirus or coronavirus symptoms, and increase of 14 on Thursday.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon warned: “I want to be very clear that nothing I have seen gives me any basis whatsoever for predicting the virus will peak as early as a week’s time here in Scotland.”

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A total of 24 patients have died after testing positive for coronavirus in Wales, bringing the total number of deaths in the country to 141, health officials said.

Public Health Wales said 345 new cases had tested positive for Covid-19, bringing the total number of confirmed cases in Wales to 2,466.

Dr Robin Howe, from Public Health Wales, said “345 new cases have tested positive for Covid-19 in Wales, bringing the total number of confirmed cases to 2,466, although the true number of cases is likely to be higher”.

Dr Howe added: “Twenty-four further deaths have been reported to us of people who had tested positive for Covid-19, taking the number of deaths in Wales to 141.

Louisa Jordan

“We offer our condolences to families and friends affected, and we ask those reporting on the situation to respect patient confidentiality.”

The Welsh Government will introduce a law compelling all employers to make sure their workers keep two metres apart, Wales’ First Minister has said.

Mark Drakeford said the social distancing legislation, the first in the UK, would require bosses to “put the needs of their workforce first” when it comes into force on Monday or Tuesday of next week.

The number of people who have died in Northern Ireland after contracting coronavirus has risen by 12 to 48, health officials said.

Testing has resulted in 130 new positive cases, bringing the total number of confirmed cases in the region to 904.

Manchester's Central Complex

In England, two siblings of Ismail Mohamed Abdulwahab, the 13-year-old London boy who died after testing positive for coronavirus, have also developed symptoms, according to a family friend who launched an online appeal.

The development means Ismail’s mother and six siblings are forced to self-isolate and cannot attend his funeral in Brixton on Friday, Mark Stephenson said.

Meanwhile, Prince Charles, who tested positive for coronavirus last month, officially opened the NHS Nightingale Hospital at the ExCeL centre in east London.

The Prince of Wales, 71, appeared via video-link from his Scottish home of Birkhall and spoke to those gathered at the entrance of the new temporary hospital.

He said: “It is without doubt a spectacular and almost unbelievable feat of work in every sense, from its speed of construction – in just nine days as we’ve heard – to its size and the skills of those who have created it.

Mark Stephenson

NHS Nightingale Hospital – the facts

The NHS Nightingale Hospital has been built in east London in the ExCel convention centre.

The facility will be used to treat Covid-19 patients transferred from intensive care units across London

Just one ward will need 200 members of staff

“An example, if ever one was needed, of how the impossible could be made possible and how we can achieve the unthinkable through human will and ingenuity.”

Charles added: “The creation of this hospital is above all the result of an extraordinary collaboration and partnership between NHS managers, the military and all those involved to create a centre on a scale that has never been seen before in the United Kingdom.

“To convert one of the largest national conference centres into a field hospital, starting with 500 beds with a potential of 4,000, is quite frankly incredible.”

The prince and Mr Hancock both recently ended self-isolation after contracting the virus and Charles commented on the fact they had recovered.

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He said: “Now I was one of the lucky ones to have Covid-19 relatively mildly and if I may say so I’m so glad to see the Secretary of State has also recovered, but for some it will be a much harder journey.”

Shortly after he spoke, Buckingham Palace confirmed the Queen has recorded a special broadcast on the coronavirus outbreak to be broadcast on Sunday night.

Previously, it was said that the 93-year-old monarch, who is isolating with Prince Philip, 98, at Windsor Castle, was preparing to make a televised address to calm the nation’s nerves, but was waiting for the “right moment” to address the country.

Mr Hancock, meanwhile, praised all those involved in the setting up of the hospital, adding the “extraordinary project”, the core of which was completed in just nine days, was a “testament to the work and the brilliance of the many people involved”.

Matt Hancock

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Add your partial postcode (eg: CF5 1) to put a heart on the map and you can add a thank you message too.

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He also praised the NHS and the way its staff are dealing with the virus crisis.

The Health Secretary said: “In these troubled times with this invisible killer stalking the whole world, the fact that in this country we have the NHS is even more valuable than before.”

Asked about the number of ventilators currently in use and how many are expected to arrive next week, Mr Hancock said: “We’ve obviously got a big programme to ramp up the number of ventilators and we now have more ventilators than we had before.

“And we’re going to need them for this hospital and I’m just going to go and have a look at that now.”

Pressed for exact numbers, Mr Hancock did not respond.

Northern Ireland

Speaking on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme earlier, Mr Hancock said it is unclear whether he is now immune to Covid-19.

He described having coronavirus as a “pretty unpleasant experience” with an “incredibly” sore throat and a feeling of “having glass in my throat”.

He said he has lost half a stone in weight.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson remained in isolation in Downing Street after testing positive for the virus.

He was “feeling better” but still had a fever on Friday.

nurse and paramedic

In a video on social media, the Prime Minister urged the public to stick with social distancing and not be tempted to “hang out” in the warmer weather predicted for this weekend.

“In my own case, although I’m feeling better and I’ve done my seven days of isolation, alas I still have one of the symptoms, a minor symptom, I still still have a temperature,” he said.

“So, in accordance with government advice I must continue my self-isolation until that symptom itself goes.”

Mr Johnson said people must not be tempted to break social distancing rules as the weather warms up even if they were going “a bit stir crazy”

In England, more than 26.7 million units of personal protection equipment (PPE) were delivered to 281 NHS “trusts and providers” on Thursday, Downing Street confirmed.

Prime Minister

Mr Johnson’s spokesman said: “That included 7.8 million aprons, 1.7 million masks and 12.4 million gloves.”

It follows the new guidance issued by Public Health England about the level of protection health staff should wear depending on the patient situation.

There would be no new guidance published on the public wearing masks or face coverings when out of the house, said the spokesman.

The spokesman said “surveillance” of the population to determine the spread of coronavirus was ongoing, with 3,500 antibody tests carried out per week.

“This is a population surveillance programme which we have been carrying out since February,” said the spokesman.

“It is being done by Public Health England at their campus which is at Porton Down.

“We currently have capacity for 3,500 of these surveillance tests to be carried out this week which is enough for small-scale population sampling.”

Two newly-planned temporary hospital sites have been agreed at the University of the West of England and the Harrogate Convention Centre.

They will join other sites due to open at Birmingham’s National Exhibition Centre and Manchester’s Central Complex.

Construction of a temporary hospital called the NHS Louisa Jordan is underway in Glasgow.

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Kelechi Obiakwata speaks on Military Jet misfire in Nigeria

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Unhinged Donna Brazile Attacks GOP Chair Ronna McDaniel: ‘Go To Hell’ (Video) ⋆ Conservative Firing Line

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Fox News contributor Donna Brazile got mad at RNC chairperson Ronna McDaniel for claiming the Democrats might be trying to sabotage a Bernie Sanders candidacy.

“It does depend on how big a lead that Sanders takes out of California is,” the GOP chair said. “If he picks up a huge proportion of delegates. I don’t see anybody getting out soon. It is leading towards a brokered convention, which will be rigged against Bernie if those superdelegates have their way on that second vote.”

Former DNC chair Donna Brazile tells @GOPChairwoman to “Go to hell.” pic.twitter.com/S2SZh2Y5QE

— Daily Caller (@DailyCaller) March 3, 2020

Donna Brazile then pitched a hissy fit.

“First of all, they don’t have a process,” Donna Brazile said. “They are canceling primaries. They have winner-take-all. They don’t have the kind of democracy that we see on the Democratic side.”

“For people to use Russian talking points to sow division among Americans is stupid,” she continued. “So Ronna, go to hell! This is not about — go to Hell! I’m tired of it.”

Twitter jumps:

Dem party is stealing the nomination from @BernieSanders & @donnabrazile knows it. @amyklobuchar & @PeteButtigieg didn’t drop out hours b4 Super Tue & betray their supporters w/o a big payoff. Dems are cheating Bernie to favor a guy w progressive Alzheimer’s disease. Corrupt!

— Val Wayne (@valwayne) March 3, 2020

FIRE Donna she doesn’t deserve to be SPEWING HER FILTH ON TV! PERIOD! Ed and Sandra DONT put her back on your show again. I will not watch you 2 again if you don’t start straightening out your guests! Key word “guest”. Donna & U 2 should conduct yourselves better! Shameful act!

— Jerry Prince (@jdp021189) March 3, 2020

Get her off. Can’t believe they hired that cheater anyway. She’s the epitome of the corruption in the DNC. What was Fox News thinking? Glad I switched to @OANN

— Margaret 🇺🇸🇬🇷 (@Margare14571757) March 3, 2020

The problem isn’t republicans getting “into” the democrat nominating process….

The problem is DEMOCRATS like Brazile screwing Democrat voters (contributors and volunteers, too) with DISHONEST tricks like feeding certain candidates debate questions in advance.

— Conservative in Marin (@JNOV57) March 3, 2020

‼️ For @donnabrazile to tell anyone how to behave during an election is hypocrisy of the highest order. She may be a nice person but how she still gets to work after what she did in the last elections seems ludicrous. AND she just showed who she really is with that outburst‼️

— KBR (@KBR_USA) March 3, 2020

Cross-posted with BB4SP

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Church and State in Montenegro: between National(istic) and Imperial Policies | Political Theology Network

A crisis is brewing in the tiny ex-Yugoslav country of Montenegro. There are massive street protests, attacks on priests, and fights in the Parliament. Various domestic, regional, and international actors, interests and policies are at stake here, giving us the opportunity to learn important lessons about national (and nationalistic) ideological projects, and the role of religion and international (also imperial) aspirations in their creation. And yet, mainstream Western media has shown little interest in the matter. One can speculate why.

The Government of Montenegro proposed new legislation on religious organizations called “The Law on the Freedom of Religion,” which was approved by the Parliament on December 27, 2019.  A draft version of the document is available from the website of the Ministry for Human and Minority Rights, both in the local language and in English. The legislation generated significant controversy due to its treatment of religious organizations, their internal procedures, as well as their property.

Article 4 specifies that:

“Prior to the appointment, i.e. announcement of the appointment if the highest religious leaders, a religious community shall confidentially notify the Government of Montenegro (hereinafter: the Government) about that.”

Article 16, § 1 requires that the application for registration of a religious community shall contain:

“The name of the religious community, which must be different from names of other religious communities and must not contain the official name of other state and its features”

For many, the most problematic article is 52, found under the
section “Transitional and Final Provisions”:

“Religious facilities and land used by the religious communities in the territory of Montenegro and for which is found to have been built or obtained from public resources of the state or have been in state ownership until 1 December 1918, as the cultural heritage of Montenegro, shall be the property of the state. Religious facilities for which if found to have been built on the territory of Montenegro from joint investments of the citizens until 1 December 1918, shall be the property of the state.”

The law caused an outrage among the members of the Orthodox Church
in Montenegro. Let me sketch some of the background which will, hopefully,
render the current crisis more intelligible.

There are four Orthodox dioceses (belonging to the Serbian
Orthodox Church, i.e. Patriarchate of Peć) whose territory is fully or in part
located on the territory of Montenegro. The Orthodox Church (i.e. these four dioceses)
is, by far, the largest religious organization in the country.

The majority of both the clergy and laity view the new legislation as a purposeful targeting of the Church by the Government. They interpret Article 16, § 1 as specifically crafted against the Orthodox Church, as the above-mentioned dioceses in Montenegro belong to the Serbian Orthodox Church. However, the Article 52 appears to be a much more serious threat. Many these churches and monasteries are centuries old, predating even the formation of the modern state of Montenegro. If enacted, Article 52 could lead to the confiscation of Church property and its sacral objects.

Why would the government do this? Why would it go against the Church,
in a country where a significant majority of the population considers itself
Orthodox? This is where things get complicated.

Arguably the chief political authority in Montenegro, over the
past three decades, has been Milo Đukanović. He assumed the office of prime
minister in 1991, and has been in power ever since, performing the roles of
prime minister and president interchangeably (with a couple of years of break,
2006-2008, and 2010-2012). This style of rule brings to mind rulers in other
parts of Europe who have de facto been chief figures in the political
life of their countries for long periods of time, regardless of the name of the
office they would hold in a given moment. Not all long-lasting autocrats are
the same though: There are those who “we” (in the West) do not like very much,
since they refuse to obey us (branded as “evil autocrats”), and there are “our
kind of guys,” who are submissive enough to the Western political and economic
centers (branded as “democratic rulers”). Milo Đukanović, of course, belongs to
the latter group. During his pontificate the country joined the NATO alliance (in
2017), and he has successfully resisted a stronger Russian influence in the
country.

Đukanović, once upon a time, was loyal to Serbian president
Slobodan Milošević, and his allies in Montenegro. However, he switched sides just
in time, and his chief project became an independent Montenegro (proclaimed in
2006) and close cooperation with Western governments, military, and
multinational corporations. This where problems with the Serbian Orthodox
Church in Montenegro begin, in particular with the most prominent figure of
Montenegrin religious life—Metropolitan Amfilohije (Radović). At times partners,
at other times in conflict, this turbulent relationship between the politician
and the metropolitan has ended up, as of now, in an open battle.

Đukanović’s vision of independent Montenegro and the new
Montenegrin identity also includes the vision of an autocephalous (“self-governed”)
“Montenegrin church” which would be loyal (some would suggest obedient as a much better word choice) to the State (i.e., his regime). Amfilohije and
other bishops do not seem to share the same vision. For them, there is no conflict
between an “authentic” Montenegrin identity and Serbian identity, and therefore
no problem with the Orthodox Church in Montenegro being part of the Serbian
Orthodox Church. (Nota bene, many figures and structures within the Serbian
Orthodox Church are by no means innocent in the political games that have been
played in the region, particularly when it comes to Serbian nationalism and the
policies of various autocrats from Belgrade, but that is a topic for another analysis.)

To foster a new Montenegrin identity, Đukanović’s regime started
to promote “Montenegrin Orthodox Church” as an “autocephalous” organization,
headed by the colorful figure of Miraš Dedejić. According to some sources, Dedejić
used to be an admirer of Slobodan Milošević and his policies. He had also been a
priest of the Ecumenical Patriarchate until he was excommunicated by Patriarch
Bartholomew. This organization is not recognized by any of the canonical
Orthodox Churches. Even Đukanović’s support has not been full or unconditional.
One is tempted to say that its purpose has primarily been to put pressure on Amfilohije
to follow the “right path.”  

This is how one can understand the recent actions, at least in one
of their complex and intertwined dimensions: Just as the Ukrainian political
leadership was advancing the (formerly) uncanonical church structures and their
autocephaly in the hope that it would strengthen Ukrainian national identity, as
well as the political elite who championed the project, Montenegrin leadership
might hope that promoting one group, which would be loyal to one political
project and obedient to the political authorities (Amfilohije has not proven
himself in that role), would lead to the recognition of autocephaly of that
group, with same or similar political results. Probably working out of these
hopes, the regime has, then, threatened the confiscation of Church property of
the “disloyal” Church, which is quietly accepted (if not blessed) by the
Western political centers. The trade seems straight-forward, based on a
widely-practiced strategy: “We” (political/economic centers in the West) will
turn a blind eye to violence, undemocratic policies, the autocratic style of
rule, breach of various rights, and so forth, and “you” (local political
elites) will ensure that the (military, economic, political) interests of those
centers are protected and advanced locally.

An obstacle in the case of Montenegro (unlike in the case of
Ukraine) is the fact that the Ecumenical Patriarchate does not seem willing to intervene
to support the formation of a new autocephalous Church, which would advance the
local national identity, being closely connected to the State. Not yet at least,
and not with Miraš’s team as a new autocephalous
church. It seems that there is awareness that right now there are no credible
candidates in Montenegro who would be willing to lead a potential autocephalous
church, neither there is popular support for such project.

For those less familiar with Orthodox ecclesiology, it is worth noting that in Orthodoxy there is no equivalent role to the one of the Roman pontiff. Orthodox ecclesiology has advanced the principle of conciliarity instead of the (universal) primacy of power of one ecclesiastical/imperial center. This does not mean, of course, that there have been no attempts of ecclesiastical seats to assume such power. Indeed, just as the seat of Rome infused the universalist aspirations to power into the emptied shell of the Western (Roman) Empire, so the bishops of “New Rome” (Constantinople) have occasionally aspired to assume both universal ecclesial, and even political authority (at times when the Empire was weakened). This universalism is reflected also in the title of the bishop/patriarch of Constantinople – “Ecumenical” – as the authority of this episcopal seat, as well as the authority of the (Roman) emperor, should ideally stretch over the entire oikoumene (inhabited world). What one can see, based on the recent actions of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, is the (renewed) aspiration to usurp a position within the Orthodox world which would be, in some aspects at least, comparable to the position which the Roman pontiff gradually acquired in the West. This, predictably, provokes a lot of criticism.

The entire episode can thus be understood as yet another example of how the whole concept of autocephaly, the way it is generally understood and practiced in “Orthodox countries” nowadays, is highly problematic. If autocephaly is understood as something “naturally” linked to national/ethnic identities (and/or nation states), it is both theologically unacceptable and very harmful to the body of the Church in long term. Serious Orthodox ecclesiology does not operate with the concept of “national Churches,” although it has been widely (and mistakenly) used both in the public discourse and, sometimes, in academia. Local Churches (i.e. dioceses) are organized as administrative regional ecclesiastical unites, that gather the faithful of a certain territory (for the sake of serving the Liturgy) regardless of their ethnicity, nationality, gender, class, race, etc. The predominant culture or customs have always been embraced in the Orthodox tradition, leaving a trace on how the service is conducted, which language is spoken, etc. However, the identity of the Church is not derived from the ethnic, national or other identities of the majority population of a certain territory, but from the Eucharist as the icon of the Kingdom of God. This is why an autocephalous Church makes sense as a self-governing administrative organization of dioceses of a certain region, having one of the local bishops as their own “head” (having the title of metropolitan, archbishop, pope or patriarch), but not as a “national” institution, or a Church of certain ethnic group (which, following Orthodox ecclesiology, amounts to nothing less than a heresy).

In practice, however, just as local ecclesiastical and political
elites are eager to exploit the (seriously flawed) understanding of autocephaly
as “national institutions,” for the sake of their own power struggles, so is
the Ecumenical Patriarchate. (Neo)imperial policies of ecclesiastical centers
(in this case of Phanar) can thus be very similar to the (neo)imperial policies
of States; both try to manipulate local nationalisms to their own advantage.
Therefore, if they serve the (neo)imperial agendas of “New Rome,” local
nationalisms and local “national” churches will be blessed. If they don’t,
local nationalisms and their cravings for autocephaly will be condemned in the
name of (neo)imperial “universalisms.”

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Worshippers at the Al Noor mosque photographed in terror threat | Stuff.co.nz

Worshippers at the Al Noor mosque in Christchurch were photographed in an apparent terror threat, two weeks before the first anniversary of the March 15 attack in which 51 worshippers were gunned down. 

The threat was issued on Sunday night on an encrypted messaging app, accompanied by a photo of a masked man sitting in a car outside the mosque. 

A police spokeswoman has confirmed an investigation into the threat is underway. 

Christchurch’s Al Noor was one of two mosques targeted in a racially motivated mass-shooting on March 15, 2019. The alleged terrorist, an Australian national, awaits a trial due to begin in June. 

Police and St John staff outside the Al-Noor mosque after the March 15, 2019 terror attack. (file photo)

Security Intelligence Service director Rebecca Kitteridge last month warned that some Kiwis have been inspired by the March 15 terror attack, and monitoring such people had been difficult.

The threat and accompanying photo was posted anonymously to more than 2000 followers on a messaging channel on the encrypted communication app Telegram.

Do you know more? Email thomas.manch@stuff.co.nz

The image shows a man wearing dark sunglasses and a balaclava printed with an image of a human skull. Through a car window the front of the Al Noor mosque can be seen. 

In the background, four people are visible at the entrance of the mosque. 

The message attached, written in both English and Russian, implies the people at the “same mosque” would be greeting each other for the “last time”. A gun emoji, or symbol, is also used in the message. 

The image was posted on a messaging channel dedicated to celebrating the March 15 terror attack. 

CHRISTEL YARDLEY/STUFF
Islamic Women’s Council national co-ordinator Anjum Rahman said police were already conducting enquiries into the threat.

Police were aware of the threat and enquiries were ongoing, a spokeswoman said.

Such threats to the community were taken “extremely seriously”. The spokeswoman declined to answer questions about security arrangements for the anniversary of the March 15 terror attacks. 

An SIS spokesman declined to comment on the specific threat.  

Islamic Women’s Council national co-ordinator Anjum Rahman​ said she was told of the threat early on Monday morning, and notified both mosque leaders and senior police officers. 

“[The police] were already aware and were looking into that threat,” she said. 

“There have been threats, more oblique threats, to other mosques in the last six to eight months or so. We know there is ongoing activity, I would just say the public should be vigilant and report anything that they see as suspicious.”

She said it would be helpful to have a visible police presence at the mosques as the anniversary of the attack approached.

Al Noor imam Gamal Fouda has been contacted for comment. 

In February, Kitteridge said New Zealand’s spy agencies were investigating some 30 to 50 people for a potential terror risk at any one time. 

She said it was challenging to monitor such people as they “tend to live in encrypted chat rooms” — such as Telegram. 

Kitteridge would not say if any specific terror plans had been intercepted.

Messages on the Telegram app first alerted the public to the arrest of a 27-year-old soldier connected to far-Right groups, in November 2019. 

The soldier now awaits a military trial, facing charges of accessing a computer system for a dishonest purpose and for disclosing information that prejudiced the security or defence of New Zealand. 

Authorities across western nations continue to grapple with the terror threat posed by adherents to far-Right and white supremacist ideologies. 

The director of the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation, Mike Burgess, last week told reporters that small cells of such extremists posed a growing and enduring threat.

Days earlier, in the United States, the New Jersey Office of Homeland Security increased the terror threat level regarding homegrown white supremacists to “high”. 

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President Mnangagwa & General Chiwenga fight gets serious, Chris Mutsvangwa attacks Chiwenga (PIC) | My Zimbabwe News

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President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s ally Chris Mutsvangwa ranted against Vice President Constantino Chiwenga in a chance encounter with the MDC leader, Nelson Chamisa, ZimLive can reveal.

The shock development comes as the Zanu PF Youth League has recently become vocal against “cartels”, seen as a precursor to an all-out war with Chiwenga by first targeting his financial backer, Kudakwashe Tagwirei, an influential player in the petroleum industry.

Chamisa was at the Robert Mugabe International Airport on January 29 ahead of a trip to South Africa when he came across the chairman of the Zimbabwe National Liberation War Veterans Association who was also at the airport on undisclosed business.

Two sources who witnessed the encounter said Mutsvangwa initially requested a photo to be taken with Chamisa, before launching into an unrestrained attack on Chiwenga, Mnangagwa’s ambitious deputy.

“He told Chamisa to disengage from Chiwenga, stating that the former army general was claiming influence that he did not have, both in the military and Zanu PF,” one source said.

Chamisa reportedly expressed surprise that Mutsvangwa was associating him with Chiwenga, remarking: “You are donating me to Chiwenga, and Chiwenga donates me to you. Which is which?”

Mutsvangwa did not care who was listening, another source who witnessed the encounter said. The war vets chief, said the source, appeared convinced that Chamisa was open to a political alliance with Chiwenga.

“He was particularly dismissive of Chiwenga, questioning his fitness for higher office,” the source, who had just walked over to greet Chamisa, told ZimLive.

Referring to Chiwenga’s nasty divorce from his former model wife, Marry Mubaiwa, Mutsvangwa told Chamisa: “Don’t be fooled by a man who has a pr0stitute running rings around him.”

Chamisa reportedly asked “who’s the pr0stitute, and who’s the man?” before the two men separated, both laughing.

The encounter reveals deepening divisions in Zanu PF, with two distinct factions – one led by Mnangagwa and the other by General Chiwenga – each seeking to take decisive control of the party before the next elections in 2023.

Chiwenga was the army general who led a coup against the former late president Robert Mugabe in November 2017. He recalled Mnangagwa, Mugabe’s former deputy, from exile to make him president in a bid to sanitise the coup.

But the two men have differed sharply after Mnangagwa claimed victory in a presidential election in August 2018 by just over 35,000 votes. Chiwenga’s camp says the 76-year-old Zanu PF leader is unelectable and has failed to effectively run the country, imperilling their project with the lurking dangers of a popular uprising or annihilation in a future election.

Mnangagwa, through his son Emmerson Junior, has reportedly engaged the Zanu PF Youth League to push back against Chiwenga.

Youth League deputy secretary Lewis Matutu and Godfrey Tsenengamu, the political commissar, have taken to social media to launch thinly-veiled attacks on Sakunda Holdings boss, Tagwirei, believed to be Chiwenga’s moneyman.

Tagwirei, the local partner of global commodities trader, Trafigura, is accused of running a near monopoly in the petroleum industry and fleecing the state through the opaque Command Agriculture scheme run by Sakunda.

A parliamentary committee says agriculture ministry officials have failed to account for US$3 billion expenditure on the scheme, and Tagwirei has refused to testify before parliament.

Writing on Facebook on January 29, Matutu said: “How can a few individuals prosper on majority’s tears?”

Avoiding naming Tagwirei, he added in another post on January 31: “We will be judged by our deeds as a generation. Personally, l refuse to be amongst the cursed ones simply because l would have ignored evil things happening whilst watching and right now l have an opportunity to make things right #cartelsmustfall.”

Tsenengamu, also taking to Facebook, said: “We will pay the price, either for fighting the blood-sucking cartels or for smiling at them while they suffocate us. I choose to fight.”

Tsenengamu said Zimbabwe was being destroyed “not by those few who do evil, but by those who watch them without doing something positive.”

“Monday is the day #CartelsMustFall,” he wrote on January 31, hinting strongly that the Youth League would pursue some action soon.

Zanu PF sources told ZimLive that Matutu was also personally angry after recently going to the party’s secretary for administration, Obert Mpofu, to demand that he be issued a Toyota Land Cruiser “like all other politburo secretaries”, and being rebuffed.

All Zanu PF secretaries in the politburo had Land Cruisers purchased for them by Tagwirei, and if Matutu had been granted his wish, the party would have turned to the Sakunda boss who has used his vast fortune to buy influence.

The convergence between Matutu and Tsenengamu has surprised some, who say the two men have rarely been aligned.

“It shouldn’t surprise anyone, however, because Tsenengamu will do anything for money or a voucher. He’s shamelessly unscrupulous. For a thousand dollars, he would slap the president, he’s that sort of guy,” a member of the Youth League said.

Mnangagwa’s son, Emmerson Junior, is reportedly pulling the financial strings on the Youth League to do his father’s bidding.

Mnangagwa has identified Tagwirei – whose accounts were temporarily frozen by the Reserve Bank last year over allegations that he was manipulating the local currency – as the power behind Chiwenga, and hopes by targeting him, he would leave his 63-year-old deputy financially weaker and unable to mount any challenge to his rule.

The Zanu PF leader has, since taking power in 2017, been reorganising the military top brass and retiring other senior officers in moves aimed at diminishing Chiwenga’s influence.

The Zimbabwe Independent reported on Friday that “an unsettled Mnangagwa” had made moves to “coup-proof” his regime by changing the commanders of the Presidential Guard, the infantry battalion which, together with the Mechanised Brigade, played a critical role in the 2017 military coup that toppled Mugabe.

The Presidential Guard, responsible for providing protection to the president and securing Harare, is a specialised force trained to fight in built up areas. It consists of two battalions, the 1 PG Battalion commonly known as State House Battalion, and the 2 PG Battalion situated in Dzivaresekwa.

Mnangagwa has named Lieutenant-Colonel Alison Chicha as the commander of 2 PG Battalion, replacing Lieutenant-Colonel Regis Mangezi, who moves over to command the 1 PG Battalion. Mangezi takes over from Lieutenant-Colonel Solomon Murombo, removed from the unit after he clashed with Mnangagwa’s wife – an incident caught on a leaked audio tape.

Mnangagwa’s wife, Auxillia, accused Murombo of spying on her and plotting to kill the president. Her outburst betrayed the first family’s fears and concerns about their security. Murombo has been shunted off to Zimbabwe Defence House, the military headquarters.

— ZimLive

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Fake Military Personnel hack Female lover to Death in Yola

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Amos Yau

Residents of Bachure in Jimeta-Yola, Adamawa state capital were again thrown into mourning and despair a 23-year-old, Patience Amos Ya’u was reported to have been hacked to death by her boyfriend during a scuffle that ensued while they were alone in a room.

She was said to have been hacked by her boyfriend, Ali Mohammed Wakil whom they were always seeing together and parading himself as military personnel.

The gruesome murder of the girl threw the family, relations, friends, and staff of the Adamawa Press Limited, Publishers of The Scope newspaper, Yola where the father of the deceased works as Chief driver into agony.

Sources say that Patience who was newly recruited Army Officer could not be part of the training because of the tragedy which struck.

Some sources alleged that the boyfriend who claimed to be military personnel serving with 68 Reference Hospital Yaba in Lagos state may be a dismissed officer and only impersonating the military.

Another source at Damilu, where the incident occurred said that they heard the deceased and her boyfriend in the room, but could not categorically explain the circumstances that led to the killing of Patience.

‘’ Residents became more suspicious when we could not see the lady for good three days, and what worried us more was the terrible odor emitting from their room,’’ said a resident who doesn’t want to be mentioned.

According to this resident, ‘’what  compounded the situation was how the door of the room was locked from the outside, a development which compelled people  to forcefully open the window of the room only to discover the body of the female lover at the stage of decomposition.’’

The discovery of the dead body attracted a crowd who later proceeded to the palace of the ward head before the matter was finally reported to the police.

A family source who confided to newsmen said that they saw the suspect near the residence of the father of the deceased, strolling and enjoying his normal life at the time when the girl was declared missing.

‘’ In fact, at the time that the police officers who went to inform the father of the victim about the incident, the suspect was also sighted near the house of the father of the victim,’’ female resident added.

Narrating how the incident happened, the father of the deceased, Amos Ya’u, explained that his daughter left his house on the fateful  Saturday to plait her hair but could not come back again despite her assurance to them that she was on her way back home.

He said that they had called her on phone on that fateful evening, but she told them that she will be coming back home and waited but could not see her.

According to him, they called her line later on Sunday but it was not going through, and that since that day, they had not seen her until four days later when a police officer came and informed him of her death, a situation he could not believe it.

But when contacted, the Spokesman of the State Police Command, DSP, Suleiman Nguroje, confirmed the killing of Patience.

Nguroje said that when the matter was reported to the command, the Commissioner of Police directed that the suspect is apprehended and that their men were able to arrest the suspect.

He stated that the suspect is now cooling his heels at the Criminal Investigation Department and that he has been assisting them with relevant information that led to the murder of the girl, adding that the police are doing everything possible to gather both human and material evidence.

He further that the suspect who identified himself as Ali Mohammed Wakil, a military officer serving at Reference Hospital Yaba in Lagos state Nigeria.

recalls that only last week  Maxwell Nashan, a young reporter with Federal Radio Corporation of Nigeria (FRCN) F.M station,  Fombina FM in Yola, was hacked to death in the bush on the outskirt of Vunokilan, in  Girei local government area of the state.

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