Friday, April 17, 2020

Gordon Chang: Coronavirus shows elites 'have been getting it wrong for a long time' about China - Victor Garcia


by Victor Garcia

Chang told host Tucker Carlson that the pandemic should lead America's leaders to "question their assumptions" about the Communist country.


Foreign affairs expert Gordon Chang told "Tucker Carlson Tonight" Wednesday that it is "probable" that the coronavirus pandemic originated in a laboratory in Wuhan, China, not in one of the city's wet markets.

"There was an article in The Lancet, which is the authoritative British medical journal, I think it was posted January 24, which said about a third of the initial cases had no connection with the Wuhan market that everyone talked about," Chang said. "That means that there had to be another source for this, and when you look at Wuhan, obviously that Wuhan Institute of Virology, is at the top of the list of suspects."

"China reopened wet markets about a week ago," Chang added. "And that's a real indication that Beijing thought -- that Beijing knew -- that the wet markets were not the source of the coronavirus epidemic."

Fox News reported Wednesday that U.S. officials are increasingly confident that COVID-19 likely originated in a Wuhan laboratory not as a bioweapon, but as part of China's effort to demonstrate that its efforts to identify and combat viruses are equal to or greater than the capabilities of the United States.

Multiple sources who have been briefed on the details of early actions by China's government and seen relevant materials spoke with Fox News, with one source saying Beijing may have engaged in the "costliest government coverup of all time."

Chang told host Tucker Carlson that the pandemic should lead America's leaders to "question their assumptions" about the Communist country.

"I think what this really says is that all of our policymakers, all of our analysts, our academics really need to go back and question their assumptions about what happened and in a general way their view of China," Chang said. "Because clearly we have been getting it wrong for a long time. And now this has had consequences which are just disastrous. We are going to bury many Americans because of this."

Fox News' Gregg Re and Bret Baier contributed to this report.


Victor Garcia

Source: https://www.foxnews.com/media/gordon-chang-coroanvirus-elites-getting-china-wrong


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U.S. Intelligence Estimates Millions of Chinese Deaths From Coronavirus - Joseph Klein


by Joseph Klein

But ex-fake news CNN “fact-checker” disagrees.





China’s official tally of deaths attributable to the coronavirus stands at 3,341 as of April 14, 2020. Anyone who believes that this figure is anywhere near accurate should reflect on Confucius’s quote about truth: “Three things cannot long be hidden: the sun, the moon, and the truth.”

The Chinese government withheld crucial information regarding the human to human transmission of the coronavirus in the early days of the outbreak and has published phony numbers on cases and deaths in China linked to the virus ever since. The truth is coming out slowly but surely regarding the real death toll in China. Some observers have estimated more than 40,000 deaths in Wuhan alone, based on a variety of data points, including the numbers of urns provided by funeral homes and the volume of cremations. More recently, according to new data intercepted and analyzed by the United States intelligence, as reported in an article published earlier this month by News NT, it is estimated that China has experienced at least 20.9 million deaths from December 2019 to March 2020 linked to the coronavirus. This was the period during which the spread of the deadly virus was reaching its peak in China.

One way of deriving a more accurate number of deaths in China as opposed to the Chinese government’s absurdly low propaganda number is to examine the number of cell phone account closings, which the Chinese government itself reported during the relevant time period. The Chinese government announced on March 19th that over 21 million cell phone accounts in China were canceled in the past three months, according to the News NT article. After some increase of cell phone accounts still open in December 2019, when the virus was first detected, the number of open accounts dropped sharply in 2020 as the coronavirus outbreak was raging in China. “Cell phones are an indispensable part of life in China and its only closed when the user is dead,” the intelligence report said, as quoted by NT News.

However, the U.S. media apologists for Chinese propaganda think otherwise. A so-called “fact-check” article written by Ryan Cooper, a former CNN employee who now writes for an organization called “Lead Stories,” purported to refute the accuracy of the NT News article. Cooper did admit that other sources were reporting the existence of an intelligence report in early April, which concluded that China had deliberately underreported the number of coronavirus cases and related deaths. Nevertheless, Cooper claimed that the NT News story “is false and wrongly interpreted data from Chinese cellphone companies to make a broad claim that isn't backed up by facts.”

Cooper’s method of “fact-checking” included citing to an Associated Press article that quoted a representative of China Mobile Ltd., who claimed that the decline in cell phone accounts was due to a change in lifestyle. China Mobile is owned by the Chinese government. Does Cooper seriously believe that the ridiculous rationale offered by a Chinese-government owned mobile company for explaining the drastic increase in cell phone account closings during the relevant period of the coronavirus’s deadly spread in China should be taken at face value? Apparently, he does. Instead of independently fact-checking and evaluating the credibility of the sources on which he relied to challenge the accuracy of the NT News article, Cooper took the lazy path of trying to marginalize NT News itself. “News NT is a relatively new player online,” he wrote. He added that “its domain name was only registered a month ago. A subheadline written in Vietnamese in the republished English-language article suggests the site originates from that Southeast Asian country.”

It turns out that Lead Stories, the organization that Cooper has been writing for after he left CNN, was co-founded by another CNN veteran, Alan Duke. Duke, who serves as Lead Stories’ editor-in-chief, worked at CNN for 26 years. Out of the 15 writers listed on Lead Stories’ website, 7 of them (including Cooper) came from fake news CNN.

Corinne Weaver, a senior analyst for the Media Research Center, has done a bit of fact-checking into Lead Stories itself. Facebook has been using Lead Stories as one of its top “fact-checkers.” But Lead Stories appears to have bias problems of its own. “Lead Stories published 296 fact-checks between January 1, 2020, and March 9, 2020,” Ms. Weaver wrote. “Out of those, 55 entries were from right-leaning social media users and news outlets. Only 12 were from left-leaning social media users and news outlets.” Among Lead Stories’ targets so far in 2020 alone are The Washington Times, the GOP, Newsmax, Rush Limbaugh, Turning Point USA founder Charlie Kirk, Judicial Watch, Breitbart, and The Daily Caller. CNN meanwhile has escaped from its former employees’ clutches unscathed.

Lead Stories wants to go beyond its targeting of conservative outlets. Its editor-in-chief Alan Duke told his former employer CNN last October that there is “an urgent need for a fair method to identify egregiously false political ads in 2020." He proposed that Facebook, working with his organization and other so-called “fact-checkers,” begin cracking down on political ads deemed to be false. "It would likely involve fact-check journalists researching and debunking,” Duke explained, “but with the added process of a nongovernmental, nonpartisan blue-ribbon panel reviewing the results to determine if a candidate's political ad should be flagged and banned." In other words, Lead Stories’ editor-in-chief advocates blatant censorship, aided and abetted by his fellow former employees of Trump-hating CNN who pretend to be “fact-checking journalists.”

Real fact-checking journalists should be investigating the Chinese government’s deliberate disinformation about the coronavirus that originated in Wuhan. Chinese officials manipulated the data from the start, using a variety of definitions as to what constitutes a COVID-19 infection.

“Early on we did not get correct information, and the incorrect information was propagated right from the beginning,” Dr. Anthony Fauci said last weekend.

To its credit, TIME ran an article on April 1st entitled “China Says It's Beating Coronavirus. But Can We Believe Its Numbers?” As the article stated, “political considerations appear paramount” in the numbers that the Chinese government issues. The article continued: “TIME has spoken with many sickened Wuhan residents and relatives of presumed COVID-19 victims who were never included on official tallies during the outbreak’s peak. There are also countless reports of people collapsing in the street and bodies laid out outside apartment buildings. But only those who died after first being diagnosed with COVID-19 are included in official statistics.”

TIME quoted Mario Esteban, a senior analyst specializing in E.U.-East Asia relations at the Elcano Royal Institute in Madrid, who said, “Nobody believes China’s numbers.” Well, almost nobody. The CNN alumnus now working as a supposed “fact checker” with a bunch of other CNN alumni chose to believe, without any fact-checking, a Chinese government-owned company’s rationale for the steep increase in the number of cell phone accounts that closed while the coronavirus was ravaging the country. The U.S. intelligence report’s explanation buttressing the estimate of millions of coronavirus-related Chinese deaths is far more plausible: “Cell phones are an indispensable part of life in China and its only closed when the user is dead.”


Joseph Klein

Source: https://www.frontpagemag.com/fpm/2020/04/us-intelligence-estimates-millions-chinese-deaths-joseph-klein/

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Can you get COVID-19 twice? - Maayan Jaffe Hoffman


by Maayan Jaffe Hoffman

“We cannot predict how long immunity to this virus will stand,” Prof. Ronit Sarid explained. “But from what we know about other viruses, it will be at least several months or a year.”


South Korea reported that as many as 116 people have been “reinfected” with the novel coronavirus. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu warned there was “new information coming out” of the Asian country that COVID-19 could be reactivated in recovered patients. 

Can a person get coronavirus twice?


“Reinfection is very unlikely to occur,” said Prof. Ronit Sarid, an expert in virology at Bar-Ilan University. “I cannot accept it. We don’t know any virus that causes reinfection within a month or two after the first infection.”

Sarid said there are two possibilities for what we are seeing in South Korea - or what Israel saw in February when one of the Israeli passengers who returned from quarantine in Japan after having been presumed recovered tested positive on arrival in Israel. The first is that certain people carry the virus for long periods, called a “persistent infection.” The second is that sometimes a percentage of SARS-CoV-2 tests could render a false negative or positive. 

There are seven types of coronaviruses that scientists know humans can contract and SARS-CoV-2 - the official name for the novel coronavirus - is one of them. Sarid explained that of the coronaviruses before this one, four of them cause mild respiratory syndromes and two of them - Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) and Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) - may cause more severe syndromes. The four that cause mild diseases do not induce long-lasting immunity. But those infected with SARS or MERS have developed immunity that lasts at least several years. 

“We cannot predict how long immunity to this virus will stand,” Sarid explained. “But from what we know about other viruses, it will be at least several months or a year.”

Prof. Cyrille Cohen, vice dean of the Faculty of Life Sciences at Bar-Ilan University and head of the laboratory of immunotherapy, said this is not only true for coronaviruses but most viruses: if people are infected they generate antibodies that protect them from further infection.

“There is no reason to believe that immune memory is not efective against coronavirus,” he said.

Though he admitted that there are exceptions - “but even these are not really exceptions.”

Take chickenpox. We know that if people get vaccinated for chickenpox they can still develop the disease, although there is just a small chance.“

All of my kids were vaccinated and one of them got a light form of chickenpox,” Cohen told The Jerusalem Post. “Immunization does not always work. We also know people who got sick with chickenpox twice. But if you look at the whole population, it is safe to say most people only get chickenpox once.”

The other way a person could become reinfected is if the virus mutates quickly.

“With the flu, we need a new vaccine every year,” Cohen explained. “That’s because there are tens of strains of flu and every year we prepare the vaccine by predicting what strains are going to hit us this year.”

He said if coronavirus mutates quickly, people could be at risk of reinfection because they would be infected with a different strain of the disease. However, right now, the level of mutation is not that high if one looks at the worldwide population and compares the strains in different countries or individuals. 

“We see that they are more or less the same,” he said. “The question is how long will it stay the same or will the virus mutate in the future - we cannot always predict that.” And he said that even if the virus does not mutate, we still don’t know over which period of time our antibodies will be effective against the same strain.

Still, he said that if one takes into account that worldwide there are several million tests being done, even if there is a small percentage of false negative or positive that amounts to several thousand, that is likely all we are seeing. 

Most tests are not checking for evidence of antibodies, but the presence of the genetic material of the virus, which is done using a technique called PCR. 

“It could be that in some cases the test missed,” he said. “We have to take into account that the pathology of this virus is a bit weird. We see people feel OK in the first week of infection, maybe a mild fever, and then get to an intersection and either they recover or suddenly they crash. We also see a lot of symptoms that are new, like loss of smell and taste.

“I would say the way the virus behaves is very puzzling in certain patients,” he continued. “The virus might be playing hide and seek for some people.”

The way to determine if immunity has been built against coronavirus is by taking a serological test, which identifies if antibodies have been formed to fight it. When a person is infected with the virus, the virus induces the production of these antibodies to inhibit infection, Sarid said. By the time the body has finished fighting the virus, it has developed improved antibodies that should be 10 to 100 times more performant than even the first round - and those are the one that last. 

The serological test will show both the early stage and late stage antibodies. 

Sarid said that currently there are several tests that were developed and are commercially available to serologically test for SARS-CoV-2, but until now they have not been properly validated. In Israel, she continued, there are teams reviewing the tests and they should be available within days. 

Cohen said he, too, is aware that the tests are meant to be rolled out soon and that they will be used alongside the PCR test, which together can give Israel a clear picture of how much and how fast the virus has spread. 

“I don't know to whom or what frequency, but serological tests will be a major part of our exit strategy,” he said.

The serological tests will also help validate the concept of herd immunity, that the disease will eventually become eradicated by infecting a large segment of the population who then becomes immune to it. A concept that Oren Kobiler, a virology specialist in Sackler Faculty of Medicine at Tel Aviv University, said sounds good but is really “a very big question mark.”

“We don’t actually know how many people had the virus before in Israel or the world,” Kobiler said. “There is no real evidence that antibodies correlate to protection against this virus. But until we have protection, such a vaccine, this is the best and simplest idea.”


Maayan Jaffe Hoffman

Source: https://www.jpost.com/HEALTH-SCIENCE/Can-you-get-COVID-19-twice-624877?utm_source=ActiveCampaign&utm_medium=email&utm_content=Rivlin+sets+August+4+as+date+for+fourth+elections&utm_campaign=April+16+night

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Why Does No One Care About These Palestinians? - Khaled Abu Toameh


by Khaled Abu Toameh

Those in the international community expressing concern about the possible spread of the virus in the Gaza Strip are ignoring the existing tragedy of the Palestinians in Syria

  • Those in the international community expressing concern about the possible spread of the virus in the Gaza Strip are ignoring the existing tragedy of the Palestinians in Syria, particularly those held in various Syrian government-controlled prisons.
  • While Palestinian Authority leaders have been urging Israel to release Palestinian prisoners in Israel out of fear they may be infected with coronavirus, these same leaders have left, without saying a word, hundreds of Palestinians held in Syrian jails.
  • "Such practices represent flagrant violations of international law which criminalizes all forms of torture and mistreatment against civilians," the Action Group for Palestinians of Syria (AGPS) stated.
  • An Arab persecuting or torturing an Arab never seems to be condemned by the international community.... The reason the world does not care about the atrocities committed against Palestinians in Syria: they cannot blame Israel for them.
  • Unfortunately, the Palestinians of Syria live in an Arab country. Were those Palestinians living in the West Bank or the Gaza Strip, the international media, the United Nations and human rights organizations would have interrupted the daily media fare of coronavirus by shouting day and night about Israel's purported persecution of the Palestinians.

Palestinian refugees have lost all hope of returning to the Yarmouk refugee camp after the Syrian authorities revealed a plan that would radically change the conditions of the camp by building tall buildings and opening new roads, according to a report by the pan-Arab newspaper Asharq Al-Awsat. Pictured: Yarmouk refugee camp, near Damascus, on May 22, 2018, days after Syrian government forces regained control over the camp. (Photo by Louai Beshara/AFP via Getty Images)

As the world is busy combating the spread of the coronavirus pandemic, Palestinians are continuing to "disappear" in Syrian prisons -- or otherwise die. Those in the international community expressing concern about the possible spread of the virus in the Gaza Strip are ignoring the existing tragedy of the Palestinians in Syria, particularly those held in various Syrian government-controlled prisons.
The international community also does not seem to care if a Palestinian refugee camp in Syria is about to be wiped off the face of the earth.

The reason the world does not care about the atrocities committed against Palestinians in Syria: they cannot blame Israel for them.

An Arab persecuting or torturing an Arab never seems to be condemned by the international community.

The following are some distressing figures released this week by the Action Group for Palestinians of Syria (AGPS), a London-based human rights watchdog organization that monitors the situation of Palestinian refugees in war-torn Syria.

Since the beginning of the civil war in Syria in 2011, the number of Palestinians who have been killed there is now estimated at 4,042, according to the latest statistics released by AGPS. The names of the victims and details about the circumstances of their death are documented on the group's website.

The number of Palestinians languishing in Syrian prisons is 1,793, and another 332 have gone missing since 2011, AGPS disclosed.

While Palestinian Authority leaders have been urging Israel to release Palestinian prisoners out of fear they may be infected with coronavirus, these same leaders have left, without saying a word, hundreds of Palestinians held in Syrian jails.

AGPS, meanwhile, as a result of the outbreak of the virus, has renewed its call for the immediate release of Palestinians held in Syrian prisons out of concern for their safety and health.

The AGPS also drew the world's attention to the presence of more than 1,790 Palestinians of all ages held in harsh conditions in Syrian prisons and detention centers. In the view of the organization, the Syrian authorities are fully responsible for the lives of the Palestinian inmates and have urged them to provide medical care to those infected with the disease.

Another disturbing figure revealed by AGPS: In Syrian prisons during the past nine years, 37 Palestinian women were tortured to death. The women, according to AGPS, are among 620 Palestinians who have died in Syrian prisons after the eruption of the civil war there.

The group said it believes the real numbers are higher: the Syrian authorities are "reticent" to reveal the names and fates of Palestinian detainees and the families are reluctant to disclose their relatives' names for fear of retaliation.

The list of victims, according to the AGPS, includes political activists, volunteers, medics, engineers, academics, journalists, university students, and artists.

The Palestinian prisoners include 110 women and 50 children, who have been enduring unknown fates in Syrian prisons and detention centers. Toddlers clinging to their mothers' arms have also been spotted there, the group said.

Affidavits made by ex-detainees show that Palestinians have been subjected to harsh psychological and physical torture in Syrian prisons, including electric shocks, heavy beating using iron bars, and sexual abuse.

Taghreed Issat and her daughter Hadeel, for instance, have been missing since March 2013, when they were arrested at a Syrian military checkpoint near Yarmouk refugee camp on the outskirts of Damascus. Hadeel was four years old at the time of their arrest.

"Such practices represent flagrant violations of international law which criminalizes all forms of torture and mistreatment against civilians," the group stated. "AGPS continues to urge the Syrian authorities to disclose the conditions and whereabouts of Palestinians held in its penitentiaries."

In yet another alarming figure, AGPS found that since the beginning of the civil war in Syria in 2011, 252 Palestinians under the age of 18 have died. Nearly half of the children were killed when their homes were shelled either by the Syrian army or its rival armed opposition groups; while several others were killed by snipers or in car-bomb explosions. Another 34 Palestinian minors died as a result of lack of food and medical treatment.

Meanwhile, Yarmouk refugee camp, five miles south of Damascus, is on its way to vanishing as a result of a plan by the Syrian authorities to build new towers and change the demographic conditions of the camp.

As of June 2002, there were 112,550 Palestinians living there; by mid-2018, only a few hundred remained. According to the UN, the place was "transformed into a death camp," with thousands of homes and a local hospital destroyed during the fighting.

Palestinian refugees have lost all hope of returning to Yarmouk after the Syrian authorities revealed a plan that would radically change the conditions of the camp by building tall buildings and opening new roads, according to a report by the pan-Arab newspaper Asharq Al-Awsat.

"The Palestinians have lived for decades in the camp and turned it into an important commercial center in Damascus," the newspaper noted. However, the war caused a catastrophe in the camp: hundreds of its inhabitants were killed or injured, most of its residents were displaced, and more than 60 percent of its buildings were damaged.

The new plan includes expanding the camp's main street to a width of 40 meters -- its current width reaching between 20-25 meters -- and replacing the destroyed houses with towers. The Palestinians fear that the plan would replace the camp with a new neighborhood and that the residents who were forced to leave their homes during the war would not be able to return to Yarmouk.

Once again, then, the world is ignoring human rights violations perpetrated by an Arab country against Palestinians.

Unfortunately, the Palestinians of Syria live in an Arab country. Were those Palestinians living in the West Bank or the Gaza Strip, the international media, the United Nations and human rights organizations would have interrupted the daily media fare of coronavirus by shouting day and night about Israel's purported persecution of the Palestinians.
  • Follow Khaled Abu Toameh on Twitter

Khaled Abu Toameh, an award-winning journalist based in Jerusalem, is a Shillman Journalism Fellow at Gatestone Institute.

Source: https://www.gatestoneinstitute.org/15861/palestinians-human-rights-syria

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Palestinians: Don't Believe UNRWA, They Are Not Helping - Bassam Tawil


by Bassam Tawil

The Palestinian public is trapped: Arabs appear to care nothing for their Palestinian brothers, while UNRWA appears to care only about collecting funds to pay the salaries of its managers and workers.

  • Those considering donating to UNRWA ought first to listen to the voices of the leaders of the Palestinians in Lebanon who are accusing the UN agency of negligence and failing to fulfill its promises to help the Palestinians battle the pandemic.
  • Meanwhile, the Lebanese human rights activist Riad Issa alleged that UNRWA has for years failed to assist the Palestinian refugees, and that the problem did not begin with the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic. "The crisis is not related to lack of funding," he said. "Palestinians have been complaining about UNRWA's lack of services for many years."
  • If the Palestinians are saying that UNRWA hasn't been helping them for years, why are the agency's heads appealing to donors for urgent financial aid?
  • The Palestinian public is trapped: Arabs appear to care nothing for their Palestinian brothers, while UNRWA appears to care only about collecting funds to pay the salaries of its managers and workers.

While UNRWA is boasting of its services to Palestinian refugees and asking for donations, the Palestinian refugees in Lebanon are accusing the UN agency of doing nothing to help them face the threat of the coronavirus pandemic. Pictured: A Palestinian volunteer sprays disinfectant in the streets of UNRWA's Shatila refugee camp, on the outskirts of Beirut, Lebanon, on March 24, 2020. (Photo by Anwar Amro/AFP via Getty Images)

The United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) claims that it is on the "frontlines of responding to COVID-19," and its officials are appealing for donations to help Palestinian refugees in the Middle East. According to an UNRWA statement from April 5:
"UNRWA is doing its part to flatten the curve and has mobilized a number of prevention and control measures across its field of operations, including the issuing of hygiene products and protection gear to UNRWA staff, the distribution of educational pamphlets to refugees, the regular sterilization of camps and UNRWA facilities, and the support of students at home through our Education in Emergencies programme. UNRWA is committed to providing emergency relief and maintaining essential services like food assistance, education, and primary health care for the millions of Palestine refugees that depend on us, but in order to do so, we need your help."
While UNRWA is boasting of its services to Palestinian refugees and asking for donations, the Palestinian refugees in Lebanon are accusing the UN agency of doing nothing to help them face the threat of the coronavirus pandemic.

Those considering donating to UNRWA ought first to listen to the voices of the leaders of the Palestinians in Lebanon who are accusing the UN agency of negligence and failing to fulfill its promises to help the Palestinians battle the pandemic.

The Palestinians' complaints against UNRWA are embarrassing for the agency's administration and expose its attempt to mislead donors into believing that UNRWA is making a herculean effort to assist the refugees in Lebanon.

The Palestinian accusations come in the aftermath of a report published last year, detailing the abuses of authority among the agency's senior management team.

The 10-page document, prepared by the agency's ethics office, cites "credible and corroborated reports" that members of an "inner circle" at the top of UNRWA have engaged in abuses of authority and nepotism for personal gain, to suppress legitimate dissent and to otherwise achieve their personal objectives.

The report concludes that the senior UNRWA officials' conduct presents "an enormous risk to the reputation of the UN" and that "their immediate removal should be carefully considered."

It appears, however, that one year after the report was leaked, UNRWA has still not drawn important conclusions from the allegations that its senior officials have engaged in misconduct and nepotism. At least, that is what the Palestinians in Lebanon are saying.

A group called the Leadership of the Alliance of Palestinian Factions in Lebanon has accused UNRWA of "procrastination and negligence" in dealing with the coronavirus pandemic and threatened to step up protests in the coming days if the agency does not "assume its responsibilities towards the Palestinians."

The group condemned UNRWA's "failure" to respond to Palestinian appeals for urgent help. "We initiated a meeting with the UNRWA management in Lebanon and demanded that the agency accelerate necessary aid to the Palestinian refugees," the group said.
"The UNRWA administration promised to contact potential donors for financial aid and grants, but nothing has happened. UNRWA's management has shown that it deliberately failed to fulfill its promises of securing funds for aid, and even exceeded the time limit they requested."
The group added that UNRWA's failure is a "clear indication of its indifference and contempt towards the Palestinian refugees suffering from poverty, hunger, and disease, particularly since the UNRWA administration has not yet seriously dealt with the coronavirus pandemic."

Munir al-Maqdah, a senior official with the Palestinian Fatah faction in Lebanon, accused UNRWA of "evading its responsibilities" and said he did not understand why the agency was not sending specialized teams to the Palestinian refugee camps to help their residents prepare for the outbreak of the virus. "We are facing an imminent threat, and if the virus spreads there will be a real catastrophe [in the refugee camps]," al-Maqdah warned.

He also complained that UNRWA did not spend the $5 million it had allocated as aid for children in the refugee camps to help them deal with the negative repercussions of the coronavirus, adding:
"Hunger is knocking on our doors and our people are suffering from extreme poverty in light of the difficult economic and living conditions and the unemployment rate that rose from 60 percent to 80 percent after the outbreak of the coronavirus."
Salah Yusef, member of the Palestinian Liberation Front, another Palestinian faction in Lebanon, complained that UNRWA "has done nothing despite repeated appeals since the beginning of the crisis." UNRWA, he said, "must assume its responsibilities to provide relief aid and employment for the Palestinians."

Ayman Shana'ah, a Hamas representative in Lebanon, also criticized UNRWA for failing to deal with the coronavirus pandemic among Palestinian refugees:
"We have entered into a lengthy dialogue with the [UNRWA] administration since the beginning of the coronavirus crisis, but we have not reached the desired results yet, not in terms of health or relief."
The Hamas official said that UNRWA has not supported the Palestinian camps with medical protective gear and disinfectants. In addition, he said, UNRWA has failed to take any steps to provide the Palestinians with financial aid: "UNRWA must assume its responsibilities with financial aid in order to avoid an imminent social explosion."

UNRWA recently said it urgently needs $14 million to prepare and respond to the coronavirus pandemic outbreak over an initial three-month period. According to UNRWA Acting Commissioner-General Christian Saunders:
"Overcrowded living conditions, physical and mental stress and years of protracted conflict all make the vulnerable population of over 5.6 million Palestine refugees particularly susceptible to the ongoing threats of COVID-19. All of the Agency's five fields' host governments and authorities have announced a series of robust measures to cope with the spread of COVID-19, which UNRWA will follow and factor into its operations."
Mustafa al-Sawwaf, a Palestinian political analyst from the Gaza Strip, said that UNRWA has failed to help the Palestinian refugees. "The agency was supposed to move quickly and without delay to help the refugees," al-Sawwaf said. "However, UNRWA has failed to help the refugees."

Meanwhile, the Lebanese human rights activist Riad Issa alleged that UNRWA has for years failed to assist the Palestinian refugees, and that the problem did not begin with the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic. "The crisis is not related to lack of funding," he said. "Palestinians have been complaining about UNRWA's lack of services for many years. We haven't seen UNRWA do anything in Lebanon to prevent the spread of the disease."

If the Palestinians are saying that UNRWA hasn't been helping them for years, why are the agency's heads appealing to donors for urgent financial aid? Are the donors aware of the Palestinians' complaints and will they demand explanations from UNRWA about where the money is going? If UNRWA is not capable of helping the Palestinians during a critical time of a pandemic, why is it continuing to ask the international community to pump millions of dollars into its coffers?

A final question demands to be asked: Where is the responsibility of the Lebanese government and the Arab states towards their Palestinian brothers in Lebanon? Why does an Arab living in an Arab country need a UN agency or any other international party to help him or her?

When will Arab governments hosting Palestinians assume their responsibilities and provide them with the most basic line item of all: health care? The Palestinian public is trapped: Arabs appear to care nothing for their Palestinian brothers, while UNRWA appears to care only about collecting funds to pay the salaries of its managers and workers.

Bassam Tawil, a Muslim Arab, is based in the Middle East.

Source: https://www.gatestoneinstitute.org/15879/palestinians-unrwa-coronavirus

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Corona and Arab-Israeli Integration - Joseph Puder


by Joseph Puder

An opportunity for closer cooperation between Arabs and Jews in Israel?





In times of crisis, when all are threatened by a killer enemy, one expects to find across the board solidarity. Arab-Israelis are no different in that respect. The coronavirus pandemic has not discriminated between Arab and Jewish Israelis. Unfortunately for the Arab community in Israel, their Knesset (Israeli Parliament) representative (the Joint Arab List) had been a barrier for Arab-Israeli full integration into Israeli society. They have been more focused on promoting and defending the Islamist terrorist group Hamas, which controls the Gaza Strip, and seeking to dismantle Israel’s Zionist character, than seeking to bring about Arab integration into the Jewish state, as full and equal citizens.

The coronavirus shook the Arab community in Israel and made them cognizant of the fact that they share a common destiny with their fellow Jewish citizens. They have come to realize that the coronavirus doesn’t distinguish between Arab and Jew, or between those who abide by the Koran and Sharia, and those following the Halacha and the Torah. This common destiny was illustrated once before, during the 2006 Second Lebanon War between Israel and the Lebanese terrorist group Hezbollah. The Shiite Hezbollah terrorist missiles did not distinguish between Arab and Jew. Over 40% of those killed by Hezbollah’s missiles were Arab-Israelis. For the Arab community, that was a bitter revelation, and a shocking realization.

The Arab-Israeli community, which accounts for about 20% of Israel’s population, has experienced significant changes in recent decades that altered its traditional structures. It has been particularly noticeable in the weakening of the patriarchal authority. It has brought changes in the intra-clan relations, inside the family structure and in inter-personal relationships. Arab women are out of the house and working in the marketplace in increasing numbers, and similarly in institutions of higher education. The challenge to the patriarchal authority however, carried with it increasing levels of crime in the Arab-Israeli society.

Yet, religion and tradition are still the primary expressions of Arab-Israeli society identity. The Islamic movement in Israel established in 1972, followed a trend throughout the Arab world. It strengthened the Muslim identity of Israeli Arabs. The Islamic movement rejects integration and doesn’t accept Israeli sovereignty over any part of historic Palestine, considering the whole land belonging to the waqf, or the Islamic charitable endowment.

The Arab-Israeli nationalist camp, for its part, has raised the concept of “a state for all its citizens,” which aims to erode the Jewish character of the state. It also demands “cultural autonomy” and pushes the notion of being an “indigenous minority.” Those concepts enjoy widespread support among the Arab public. The weakest camp in Israel’s Arab Street is the Arab-Israeli political camp, which has virtually disappeared. In the past, it advocated integration. They are the “moderates” within the Arab-Israeli society and the least influential.

The Arab community in Israel (predominately Sunni-Muslim) has also shown heterogeneous tendencies, at least politically. A diverse group of Arab communists, Islamists, and nationalists were able to come together and form the Joint Arab List, which captured 15 seats in the March 2, 2020 Israeli election, the largest ever for an Arab party. These elected politicians militate against the Jewish state while benefiting from its largesse. In the meantime, individual Arab-Israeli doctors, nurses, and pharmacists are on the front line along with their Jewish colleagues in combatting the coronavirus.

Professor Raphael Israeli is a Middle East scholar and one of the preeminent researchers on the Arabs in Israel, who teaches at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem and Haifa University. His is a different view on Arab integration. In an interview with Nadav Shragai of the daily Israel Hayom (3/23/20), Professor Israeli contended that unlike some Israeli policymakers who hope for greater solidarity among Arab-Israelis with the State of Israel, he sees “a serious decline.” Solidarity, he mentioned, is “not increasing,” but rather “Arab-Israelis pulling away from Israeli-ness.” Professor Israeli debunks claims that the extremist, anti-Zionist Arab leadership in Israel doesn’t actually represent the views of their constituency.

Questioned on whether he (Prof. Israeli) may be wrong, since Arab-Israelis talk about integration into Israeli society, and government officials publish statistics that show a process of integration, Prof. Israeli responded in saying that “The question is, ‘what does integration mean’? If we're talking about economic integration, then yes  they are more involved. They own businesses, they trade with us and we trade with them, but unfortunately, their national attitude is to not integrate into the State of Israel. Nationally, they are gathering around an extremist leadership. Past talk about the birth of a different kind of leadership has not come to pass. When I talk to them about it, and I have done so extensively, I find a few who are willing to whisper different things in terms of nationality, but it's always a whisper. I'm waiting for a brave Arab leader who will say different things to his people. Right now, the way I understand it, the Arab-Israeli political leadership is pulling its public away from Israel, and the public is following."  

Yet, unlike the social networks from the neighboring Arab states, who, throughout last month engaged in conspiracy theories including that the coronavirus was an attempt to unleash a virus by both China and the U.S. to weaken each other’s economy; the Palestinian Authority (PA) officialdom balanced Arab disinformation with warning of the seriousness of the coronavirus. In fact, the PA has cooperated closely with Israel on stemming the spread of the coronavirus. They have asked the Israeli military to help in quarantining certain Palestinian areas in Judea and Samaria (West Bank).

Arab-Israeli communities, like the rest of Israel, have for the first time ever closed their mosques, public worship, and other religious and secular institutions to prevent social gatherings. This move was called for and endorsed by local leaders, including imams, without orders from Israeli authorities.

The Jerusalem Post (April 6, 2020) reported that, “About 60% of Jewish and Arab Israelis believe that the State of Israel has been dealing effectively with the coronavirus outbreak, according to a Tel Aviv University, March, 2020 Peace Index.”

Palestinian Arab Journalist Ramzy Baroud, editor of the Palestine Chronicle, in an opinion piece he wrote for the Jordan Times (April 7, 2020) pointed out that, “Times of crisis (referring to the coronavirus crisis), especially the kind that targets all of us regardless of race, religion or geography often constitute a wake-up call, present an opportunity for a new beginning, a new social contract so that we may resurrect from the ashes of our collective pain to build a better world.”

When the coronavirus crisis ends, hopefully in the near future, reality is likely to appear somewhat different to say the least. The destruction and disruption of life the crisis has caused may also offer an opportunity for closer cooperation between Arabs and Jews in Israel. Hopefully, it will be translated into greater integration of the Arab-Israeli community in line with Israel’s national agenda.


Joseph Puder

Source: https://www.frontpagemag.com/fpm/2020/04/corona-and-arab-israeli-integration-joseph-puder/

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China may be conducting secret nuclear tests, State Department warns - Nick Givas, Rich Edson


by Nick Givas, Rich Edson

China may be flouting international law by conducting the tests within the northwest region of the country


The State Department is concerned China may be conducting small nuclear tests in secret, possibly violating an international agreement banning such tests, Fox News confirmed Wednesday.

A new State Department report on compliance with arms control, nonproliferation and disarmament, first obtained by the Wall Street Journal earlier Wednesday, found that China may be flouting international law by conducting the tests within the northwest region of the country, using low explosive power.

The report didn't prove any wrongdoing on the part of the Chinese, but still raised red flags.
"Some compliance concerns are raised and some findings of violations are made," it read.

CORONAVIRUS HAS 'NO IMPACT' ON ABILITY TO LAUNCH NUCLEAR WEAPONS: TOP US NUKE COMMANDER


Officials wrote that China had maintained a "high level of activity" at its Lop Nur site in 2019, and could be seeking to operate it year-round going forward.

It also mentioned China’s use of explosive containment chambers, extensive evacuations at the site and lack of transparency on nuclear testing as reasons for raising suspicions.

The report went on to cite further concerns about China's possible violation of the Biological Weapons Convention (BWC) by engaging "in biological activities with potential dual-use application."

The U.S. government also could not determine if China had shut down its biological warfare program, nor could it confirm if Beijing still had access to such weapons, due to its lack of openness and transparency.

China has been under growing scrutiny over its handling of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak. There is increasing confidence that COVID-19 likely originated in a Wuhan laboratory not as a bioweapon, but as part of China's effort to demonstrate that its efforts to identify and combat viruses were equal to or greater than the capabilities of the United States, multiple sources who have been briefed on government actions and seen relevant materials revealed to Fox News.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo called out the Chinese government for not sharing the full story with the rest of the world.

"We know that this virus originated in Wuhan, China," Pompeo told "The Story". "We know there is the Wuhan Institute of Virology just a handful of miles away from where the wet market was. There is still lots to learn. The United States government is working diligently to figure it out."

Fox News' Bret Baier, Gregg Re, Charles Creitz and Martha MacCallum contributed to this report.


Nick Givas, Rich Edson

Source: https://www.foxnews.com/politics/china-small-nuclear-tests-secret-state-department

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Michigan residents take to the streets for a massive protest - Andrea Widburg


by Andrea Widburg

What they’re not willing to see -- is their lives and futures destroyed


The experts assured Americans that, unless they addressed aggressively, the pandemic wave about to sweep over the country would kill millions of people, while breaking the healthcare system and, by extension, destroying America itself. The only way to make a dent in this apocalyptic scenario was for America to come to a complete halt. People had to isolate themselves within their homes, venturing forth for only the most essential errands.

Michigan was one of the states that took these prescriptions more seriously than others, shutting down virtually every aspect of life in Michigan, including earning any type of living. On Wednesday, several thousand Michigan citizens, as well as citizens from surrounding states. got fed up and took to the streets.

First-term Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer, a rising star in the Democrat party who gave the rebuttal to the President’s State of the Union Address, made national headlines when she banned hydroxychloroquine in her state. She seemed motivated more by animus to President Trump, who had expressed his hope that the medicine would be a "game changer," than by any risks the medicine posed. Whitmer reversed that order only when more reports emerged that hydroxychloroquine, combined with azithromycin and zinc, seemed effective at short-circuiting the virus in its early stages.

Aside from her abortive attempt to ban hydroxychloroquine, Whitmer still has a long list of edicts she insists are necessary to protect her citizens. Some are the same ones we see in other lockdown states, such as proscribing in-person public meetings, requiring that medical and dental facilities postpone all “non-essential procedures” (if you’re not dying, giving birth, or in agony, it’s not essential); preventing evictions; and authorizing early criminal releases.

Others, however, have been more creative and so very specific. Car dealerships are closed, but repair shops are open. Bicycle repair shops are closed unless they’re repairing bicycles for those people Michigan deems “critical infrastructure workers” who need bikes to commute to work. 

If you need someone to clean your car, even if you’re old and frail and your car has become dangerously dirty because of slush and mud, you’re out of luck. The only childcare workers who can still earn money are the ones caring for the children of people deemed critical infrastructure workers. 

Pest control workers can work but only for a home’s “safety, sanitation, and essential operations.” It’s not clear whether termites in the early stages of destroying a house constitute a home crisis. 

Funerals may go forward, but with no more than “10 people . . . in attendance.” If you ordered a bed because you’re sleeping on the floor, get used to it because there’s almost no furniture delivery in Michigan. Golf, a game played outdoors with people who have a whole golf course in which to maintain social distancing, is a no-no. Manufacturing is out but for workers who maintain inventory and equipment, care for animals, or support telecommuting. 

Stores bigger than 50,000 square feet may advertise only groceries, medical supplies, and “items necessary to maintain the safety, sanitation, and basic operations of residences.” Tobacco stores, vape shops, cigar bars, etc., are all closed. Hunting clubs and gun ranges – closed. Law firms – closed. Sporting goods and outdoor stores – closed. Motorboats, jet skis, and similar watercraft – shut down. All but emergency construction work – stopped. 

Craft and hobby stores to keep the children from killing each other – closed. Outdoor maintenance (landscaping, gardening, etc.), even for someone who's 90 and has a dangerously overgrown garden – nope. Selling or buying a home is off the table because the real estate business is a no-no. And this is only a partial list of Whitmer’s ukases.

If you’re in the media, of course, you’re safe. Feel free to go to the office as needed. Democrats take care of their own.

What’s obvious when reviewing these executive orders is that Whitmer thinks earning a living, maintaining a business, and paying employees are all non-essential activities.

Fortunately, people in Michigan may still “engage in expressive activities protected by the First Amendment.” When doing so, however, they have to respect social distancing by remaining at least six feet away from people other than those with whom they live. That's why Wednesday's massive protest in Lansing, Michigan’s capital city, was conducted either by people driving by in cars and honking, or standing far away from each other.

Thousands of people descended on Lansing to make known their displeasure with a government that is systematically destroying their lives, in service to an illness that currently has all the impact of a bad flu season:






Although it was a smaller protest and garnered less publicity, Ohio citizens also took to the streets in Columbus outside the statehouse, demanding the end of the lockdown.

The reality is that people can acclimate to everything and that constant fear is not a sustainable way of life. Everything is a balancing act. As COVID-19 is proving to be manageable, people are willing to wear masks, wash their hands, disinfect things, and keep some distance from each other. What they’re not willing to see, though, is their lives and futures destroyed.

Andrea Widburg

Source: https://www.americanthinker.com/blog/2020/04/michigan_residents_take_to_the_streets_for_a_massive_protest.html

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