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Street Artists Come Up With Heartening Way To Socially Distance During Pandemic

Street Artists Come Up With Heartening Way To Socially Distance During Pandemic
Street Artists Come Up With Heartening Way To Socially Distance During Pandemic

Parks in Bristol, southwest England, have been covered in hearts so people can socially distance within them as coronavirus restrictions are eased.

Artists involved with Upfest, the city’s live street art festival, painted 365 hearts ― spaced more than 2 meters apart ― in eco-friendly chalk line paint on the grass at College Green, Queen Square and Castle Park.

They also painted “#LoveBristol” murals in the parks and on the city’s streets.

The artworks were unveiled Monday, when nonessential stores were allowed to reopen following a three-month national lockdown. They form part of the yearlong #LoveBristol campaign — led by the nonprofit Bristol City Centre BID — which is working to help businesses recover from the pandemic.

The group also painted hearts in the parks last summer, when restrictions from the first national lockdown were being eased, and projected festive song lyrics onto buildings in the run-up to Christmas.

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‘Shocking and horrifying’: Israel destroys AP office in Gaza Qatar Benjamin Netanyahu Joe Biden Hamas White House

‘Shocking and horrifying’: Israel destroys AP office in Gaza Qatar Benjamin Netanyahu Joe Biden Hamas White House
‘Shocking and horrifying’: Israel destroys AP office in Gaza Qatar Benjamin Netanyahu Joe Biden Hamas White House

An Israeli airstrike on Saturday destroyed a high-rise building that housed The Associated Press office in the Gaza Strip, despite repeated urgent calls from the news agency to the military to halt the impending attack. AP called the strike “shocking and horrifying.”

Twelve AP staffers and freelancers were working and resting in the bureau on Saturday afternoon when the Israeli military telephoned a warning, giving occupants of the building one hour to evacuate. Everyone was able to get out, grabbing a few belongings, before three heavy missiles struck the 12-story building, collapsing it into a giant cloud of dust.

Although no one was hurt, the airstrike demolished an office that was like a second home for AP journalists and marked a new chapter in the already rocky relationship between the Israeli military and the international media. Press-freedom groups condemned the attack. They accused the military, which claimed the building housed Hamas military intelligence, of trying to censor coverage of Israel’s relentless offensive against Hamas militants.

Ahead of the demolition, the AP placed urgent calls to the Israeli military, foreign minister and prime minister’s office but were either ignored or told that there was nothing to be done.

For 15 years, the AP’s top-floor office and roof terrace were a prime location for covering Israel’s conflicts with Gaza’s Hamas rulers, including wars in 2009, 2012 and 2014. The news agency’s camera offered 24-hour live shots as militants’ rockets arched toward Israel and Israeli airstrikes hammered the city and its surrounding area this week.

“We are shocked and horrified that the Israeli military would target and destroy the building housing AP’s bureau and other news organizations in Gaza,” Gary Pruitt, the AP’s president and chief executive, said in a statement. “The world will know less about what is happening in Gaza because of what happened today.”

“This is an incredibly disturbing development. We narrowly avoided a terrible loss of life,” he said, adding that the AP was seeking information from the Israeli government and was in touch with the U.S. State Department.

The building housed a number of offices, including those of the Arab satellite channel Al-Jazeera. Dozens of residents who lived in apartments on the upper floors were displaced.

A video broadcast by Al-Jazeera showed the building’s owner, Jawwad Mahdi, pleading over the phone with an Israeli intelligence officer to wait 10 minutes to allow journalists to go inside the building to retrieve valuable equipment before it is bombed.

“All I’m asking is to let four people … to go inside and get their cameras,” he said. “We respect your wishes, we will not do it if you don’t allow it, but give us 10 minutes.” When the officer rejected the request, Mahdi said, “You have destroyed our life’s work, memories, life. I will hang up, do what you want. There is a God

Late Saturday, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said the building was used by Hamas military intelligence. “It was not an innocent building,” he said.

Israel routinely cites a Hamas presence as a reason for targeting buildings. It also accused the group of using journalists as human shields.

Lt. Col. Jonathan Conricus, a military spokesman, refused to provide evidence backing up the army’s claims, saying it would compromise intelligence efforts. “I think it’s a legitimate request to see more information, and I will try to provide it,” he said.

Conricus said the army is “committed both to journalists, their safety and to their free work.”

For AP journalists, it was a difficult moment. Most of the AP staff has been sleeping in the bureau, which includes four bedrooms in an upstairs apartment, throughout the current round of fighting, believing that the offices of an international news agency were one of the few safe places in Gaza. In a territory crippled by an Israeli-Egyptian blockade, it was equipped with a generator that offered the rare comforts of electricity, air conditioning and running water.

AP correspondent Fares Akram said he was resting in an upstairs room when he heard panicked screams from colleagues about the evacuation order. Staffers hastily gathered basic equipment, including laptops and cameras before fleeing downstairs.

“I am heartbroken,” Akram said. “You feel like you are at home. Above all, you have your memories, your friends. You spend most of your time there.”

Al-Jazeera, the news network funded by Qatar’s government, broadcast the airstrikes live as the building collapsed.

“This channel will not be silenced. Al-Jazeera will not be silenced,” Halla Mohieddeen. on-air anchorperson for Al-Jazeera English said, her voice thick with emotion. “We can guarantee you that right now.”

Later in the day, President Joe Biden spoke to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu about the spiraling violence.

“He raised concerns about the safety and security of journalists and reinforced the need to ensure their protection,” the White House said.

The Foreign Press Association, which represents some 400 journalists working for international media organizations in Israel and the Palestinian territories, expressed its “grave concern and dismay” over the attack.

“Knowingly causing the destruction of the offices of some of the world’s largest and most influential news organizations raises deeply worrying questions about Israel’s willingness to interfere with the freedom of the press,” it said. “The safety of other news bureaus in Gaza is now in question.”

Joel Simon, executive director of the Committee to Protect Journalists, said the attack raises concerns that Israel is targeting the media “to disrupt coverage of the human suffering in Gaza.” He demanded “detailed and documented justification” for the attack.

The International Press Institute, a global network of journalists and media executives, condemned the attack as a “gross violation of human rights and internationally agreed norms.”

The Israeli military has long had rocky relations with the foreign media, accusing international journalists of being biased against it.

The attack came a day after the Israeli military had fed vague — and in some cases erroneous — information to the media about a possible ground incursion into Gaza. It turned out that there was no ground invasion, and the statement was part of an elaborate ruse aimed at tricking Hamas militants into defensive underground positions that were then destroyed in Israeli airstrikes.

International journalists have accused the army of duping them and turning them into accessories for a military operation. The army said the error was an honest mistake.

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BBC Journalist Martin Bashir Steps Down As Report On Princess Diana Interview Looms

BBC Journalist Martin Bashir Steps Down As Report On Princess Diana Interview Looms
BBC Journalist Martin Bashir Steps Down As Report On Princess Diana Interview Looms

Martin Bashir has left the BBC as the broadcaster prepares to release a report on how the journalist secured a bombshell 1995 television interview with Princess Diana.

He had been on sick leave for several months.

Bashir is accused of tricking the royal into speaking with him on “Panorama,” a British news program, by forging documents in order to manipulate her. During the interview, Diana revealed unhappy details of her marriage to Prince Charles, which had by then broken down past the point of repair but was still a year away from a formal end. She publicly affirmed that Charles had an intimate relationship with his longtime friend Camilla Parker-Bowles ― causing a crisis at the palace. 

“There were three of us in this marriage,” Diana said, “so it was a bit crowded.”

Martin Bashir interviewed Princess Diana in Kensington Palace for the television program "Panorama" in 1995. (Photo by ©

Martin Bashir interviewed Princess Diana in Kensington Palace for the television program “Panorama” in 1995. (Photo by © Pool Photograph/Corbis/Corbis via Getty Images)

The BBC’s deputy director of news, Jonathan Munro, said Friday in a memo to staff that Bashir “let us know of his decision last month, just before being readmitted to hospital for another surgical procedure on his heart,” according to The New York Times, which obtained a copy.

Munro went on to say that Bashir had “major surgery” in late 2020 and was still “facing some ongoing issues,” prompting his decision “to focus on his health.”

The BBC announced in November that it was launching an investigation into how Bashir secured the interview after Charles Spencer, Diana’s brother, alleged the journalist had used deceptive tactics. Tim Davie, the BBC’s director general, said at the time that the broadcaster was taking the accusations “very seriously.”

Prince William, Diana’s son, welcomed the investigation and said it “should help establish the truth.”

A 1996 probe into how Bashir convinced Diana to sit down with him supposedly cleared the journalist.

However, Spencer maintains that Bashir made a series of bogus claims that led him to introduce the journalist to his sister. According to Spencer, Bashir said Diana was being bugged by security services and that two senior aides were being paid to provide information about her ― even producing bank statements as purported evidence. Matt Weissler, a graphic designer, came forward last year to say he had mocked up the documents on Bashir’s request, believing they would be used as film props. 

Lord John Dyson, a retired British judge, was appointed to conduct the new probe. A spokesman for the BBC told HuffPost it “will be published soon.” 

The BBC apologized for the falsified bank statements last fall, but said it had reason to believe the documents had no impact on Diana’s decision to sit down for the interview because she had not seen them herself.

Bashir joined the BBC in 1987, and eventually made the jump to U.S. media. He was forced to resign from his post as an anchor for MSNBC after calling Sarah Palin a “world-class idiot” in 2013. In 2016, he became the BBC’s religion editor. Bashir contracted COVID-19 last year and became “seriously unwell” with complications of the virus.  

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Black bear released into the wild after recovering from Colorado wildfire injuries

Black bear released into the wild after recovering from Colorado wildfire injuries
Black bear released into the wild after recovering from Colorado wildfire injuries

An orphaned black bear which was injured during a Colorado wildfire has been released back into the wild after officials worked for five months to nurse the animal back to health.

The young bear was injured during the 2020 Cameron Peak Fire, which became the largest recorded wildfire in Colorado’s history after 62 days of burning.

Colorado Parks & Wildlife (CPW) officials worked to treat and rehabilitate the animal for several months after the cub was found.

The bear was released back into the wild on 5 May in the mountains of Larimer County, outside of Fort Collins, CPW said in a press release.

“This bear’s drive to survive did most of the work and we just gave it a little boost,” said Kristin Cannon, Deputy Regional Manager for Colorado Parks and Wildlife’s Northeast region.

“This bear went through an awful lot in its first year of life, let’s hope humans can now help keep it wild by not rewarding it with our food sources and lowering its chances of survival.”

Video footage showed the bear running off into the trees after it was released. A wildlife official banged on the metal container the bear was transported in to encourage the animal to take off.

The male cub came into the CPW’s custody after ranch owners reported the animal sleeping on their porch on 7 December, five days after firefighters finally 100 per cent contained the wildfire.

However when wildlife officials arrived, the cub was gone. They finally captured the animal on 11 December after the ranch owners reported the cub again sleeping on their porch.

The cub’s injuries included burns on its paws, sustained during the Cameron Peak Fire. His ears were also infected with frostbite, he was covered in cockleburs and severely dehydrated.

It was not clear how long the cub had been orphaned but his paw injuries appeared around a month old when he was discovered.

“This is an incredibly fortunate bear,” said CPW Area Wildlife Manager Jason Duetsch. “Most wild animals don’t survive the myriad of injuries they are exposed to, let alone be found, captured and treated successfully. He definitely would not have made it through much longer. It is the smallest bear cub I have ever seen at that time of the year, which helped us make the decision to try rehabilitation.”

Veterinarians were able to treat the young cub, who is now one, and nourish him back to health.

“Since the foot injuries on this cub appeared to be healing well, and his other wounds were very treatable, we felt that with supportive care and nourishment his prognosis for recovery was very good,” veterinarian Dr Pauline Nol said.

At the time of capture, the bear weighed just 16.3lbs but has since bulked up to 93lbs by the time he was released.

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‘I lost my entire family, in an instant’: Miracle baby is sole survivor of Israeli airstrike that kills 10

‘I lost my entire family, in an instant’: Miracle baby is sole survivor of Israeli airstrike that kills 10
‘I lost my entire family, in an instant’: Miracle baby is sole survivor of Israeli airstrike that kills 10


he baby was found clutching his dead mother’s chest when the first responders in Gaza dug him out from underneath the rubble of a three-storey building.

In a split second 11 members of the Palestinian family, who had gathered for Eid, were buried by the giant claw of an Israeli airstrike.

The remains of the building in Gaza’s Shati refugee camp were strewn with children’s toys, a Monopoly board game and plates of uneaten food from the holiday gathering.

In total 10 were dead: eight children and their two mothers, who were sisters-in-law.

But by some miracle there was a cry: five-month-old Omar, the youngest, was alive.

“What had they done to the Israelis to be targeted while wearing their special Eid clothes as they sat in their uncle’s house?” the distraught father Mohamed al-Hadidi, asked The Independent, from Shifa hospital where his son was being treated.

“They are only children, they haven’t fired rockets, ” he added, breaking down.

“Except Omar, I lost my entire family, in an instant.”

Palestinians take part in the funeral of the al-Hadidi family

(AFP via Getty Images)

At least 139 Palestinians – including 39 children and 22 women – have been killed, mostly by Israeli airstrikes, according to Gaza’s health ministry.

In Israel, medics have reported 10 dead, including two children, and said six people were in a critical condition from Gaza’s volleys of rockets. The latest victim was a 50-year-old Israeli who was killed by rocket fire on Saturday afternoon in Ramat Gan, near Tel Aviv.

For five nights across the blockaded strip families have cowered under what Israeli air force officials have told The Independent is one of the most “intense barrages of airstrikes” they have ever unleashed on the territory. It is in response to an almost unprecedented level of rocket fire from militants in Gaza.

The army has repeatedly said it does everything in its power to avoid civilian casualties, including deploying early warning systems for major targets like multi-storey buildings.

But Mr Hadidi, who had not been with his wife and children,  said his family knew nothing of the air raid which blew up their lives.

Under heavy bombardment, his wife Maha, 36, had taken her four children to her brother’s home to celebrate the  Muslim holiday which marks the end of Ramadan.

After dinner with her sister-in-law, Yasmine Hassan, she decided to sleep there overnight,  a decision that would ultimately prove fatal.

Omar Al-Hadidi lies on a hospital bed


“The Israelis didn’t give any warning, they didn’t call them. They didn’t even fire drone [knock on the roof] rockets so they knew to escape,” the father said.

“My house is just 400m away, I was running in the street shouting, the building was totally destroyed.”

The latest cycle of cross-border fire erupted on Monday when Hamas, which runs Gaza, fired a volley of rockets at Jerusalem for the first time in seven years.

The militant group said it was in response to weeks of violence in the flashpoint city of Jerusalem that saw Israeli forces repeatedly storming the al-Aqsa mosque, the third holiest site in Islam, with stun grenades and teargas.

Israeli police defended the inflammatory action saying Palestinian rioters on the al-Aqsa compound were throwing stones, bottles and fireworks.

Since then, the Israeli military says Hamas and other militants in Gaza have fired over 2,300 rockets at Israel, in what a senior Israeli air force general told The Independent has been among the most “intense” barrages of all conflicts with Gaza.

Israeli warplanes have struck more than 650 targets, in an equally strong campaign.

Overnight on Friday Israel unleashed a 40-minute ferocious ground and air bombardment on Gaza, which the army said was targeting an underground network of attack tunnels they call the “metro”.

Military officials said that night they dropped 500 tonnes of munitions on the strip, which is home to nearly 2 million people.

“I have never seen anything like this in my life. It was worse than the 2014 war,”  said, Hassan Mohammed Attar, 50,  whose daughter, son-in-law, grandchildren and half a dozen neighbours were wiped out during that night’s bombardment along the northern border area.

“Everything has been destroyed, I have never seen such fire before spread through the houses. We were all suffocating,  vomiting, I don’t know what that was,” he added.

The air raids were so intense on Friday and Saturday that thousands of Palestinians living near the border with Israel packed up their belongings and fled south, fearing a protected war and possible ground invasion.

A plume of heavy black smoke rises above buildings in Gaza City from a fire caused by Israeli air strikes

(AFP via Getty Images)

“The air raids have been unimaginable, Friday was a night of fear, terror and destruction,” said Fareed Abu Haloup, 62, who spoke to The Independent as he was fleeing Beit Lahia in the north to the centre.

“We only just made it out of our house alive.  Even the ambulances can’t get to us. We can’t wait to see our children die in front of our eyes. “

Back at Shifa hospital, in Gaza City, Mr Hadidi sat playing with Omar, the only remaining member of his direct family.

“We ask where is the international law? Where is the international community to step in and stop this?” he asked.

“Where are our rights? We ask you to show the world what happened to us.”

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Donald Trump ‘will hold first rallies this summer’ – six months after DC event which sparked Capitol riots

Donald Trump ‘will hold first rallies this summer’ – six months after DC event which sparked Capitol riots
Donald Trump ‘will hold first rallies this summer’ – six months after DC event which sparked Capitol riots

Donald Trump is reportedly planning to hold his first political rallies since the event for supporters in Washington DC on 6 January which sparked the Capitol riots.

The former president is expected to appear at two events in June, and a third in July, although exact locations and dates are not yet known, insiders told The New York Post

The New York Post reported that “the president’s team is in the process of selecting venues for a pair of events in June. A third rally is expected to take place around the July 4 holiday”.

The Independent has sought comment from Trump representatives.

The news has increased speculation as to whether the 74-year-old Republican, who was impeached twice but ultimately acquitted, is gearing up for a 2024 presidential run. Mr Trump has not confirmed he will run again but has hinted at the possibility.

He recently moved his political headquarters to his New Jersey golf club from Mar-a-Lago, which closes during the summer due to Florida’s high temperatures.

The announcement of potential rallies comes after Republicans voted you oust Representative Liz Cheney from her role as chair of the party’s House Conference for publicly stating her belief that Mr Trump lost the election.

Since leaving office Mr Trump, who was banned from Facebook and Twitter, has repeatedly lied that the election was “stolen” from him in interviews and on his new blog.

Mr Trump’s theatrical rallies became a mainstay of his political campaigns and presidency, drawing thousands of fervent supporters.

He has not held one since January 6, 2021 when he spoke at the “Stop the Steal” rally in Washington DC. Following that rally hundreds of Trump supporters stormed the US Capitol building in a violent attack which left five people dead including one Capitol police officer.

So far, more than 470 people have been charged with crimes including enterting a restricted building, disorderly conduct and assaulting law personnel.

The outgoing president subsequently faced an impeachment trial for the second time during his four years in the White House. He was impeached by the House of Representatives but acquitted in the Senate.

On 4 May, Mr Trump toldThe Daily Wire: “I look forward to doing an announcement at the right time. As you know, it’s very early. But I think people are going to be very, very happy when I make a certain announcement. You know, for campaign finance reasons, you really can’t do it too early because it becomes a whole different thing.”

He added: “Otherwise, I’d give you an answer that I think you’d be very happy with. So, we are looking at that very, very seriously, and all I’d say is stay tuned.”

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Japan Expands COVID-19 Emergency Just 2 Months Before Tokyo Olympics

Japan Expands COVID-19 Emergency Just 2 Months Before Tokyo Olympics
Japan Expands COVID-19 Emergency Just 2 Months Before Tokyo Olympics

TOKYO (AP) — Japan on Friday further expanded a coronavirus state of emergency from six areas, including Tokyo, to nine, as Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga repeated his determination to hold the Olympics in just over two months.

Japan has been struggling to slow infections ahead of the games. The three additions are Japan’s northern island of Hokkaido, where the Olympic marathon will be held, and Hiroshima and Okayama in western Japan.

Despite the worsening infections, Suga stressed his commitment to holding the games safely and securely while protecting Japanese by strictly controlling the movements of foreign participants, including possibly expelling journalists covering the event if they defy regulations.

“I understand there are various difficulties, but the priority is to stop the further spread of infections and protect the people’s lives and health,” Suga said.

The three additional areas will join Tokyo, Osaka and four other prefectures already under the emergency coronavirus restrictions through May 31, Suga announced at a government taskforce meeting Friday. Bars, karaoke parlors and most entertainment facilities are required to close. Business owners who comply will be compensated; those who don’t could face fines.

“Infections are escalating extremely rapidly in populated areas,” Suga said. “As new variants continue to spread, we judged that now is a very important time to stop the further spread of infections.”

It was the second expansion of the emergency in just one week. Suga declared a state of emergency — Japan’s third — in four prefectures including Tokyo and Osaka starting April 25, then expanded it to six prefectures last Friday. Despite the emergency measures, infections are continuing to spread in wider areas of Japan instead of slowing.

In the worst-hit Osaka area, hospitals are overflowing with COVID-19 patients. Many are waiting at home or at hotels with oxygen, and more than a dozen have died without being able to get a hospital room. Coronavirus treatment in Japan is largely limited to public or university hospitals, where treatment of non-COVID-19 patients has been largely curtailed.

Dr. Shigeru Omi, who heads a government panel of experts, urged organizers to carefully study how much additional burden Olympic participants will place on already-strained medical systems.

Suga said he will decide on a possible further extension of the emergency by evaluating the virus situation at the end of May.

His government is under heavy pressure from the public, increasingly frustrated by a slow vaccine rollout and repeated emergency declarations. Many now oppose hosting the July 23-Aug. 8 Olympics, and people appear to be less cooperative with non-compulsory stay-at-home and social-distancing requests.

Less than 2% of the public has been fully vaccinated in Japan, one of the world’s least inoculated.

The expansion of the state of emergency is a major shift from the government’s initial plan that relied on less stringent measures.

The addition of Hiroshima to the areas covered by the emergency measures comes just days after Japanese organizers announced that a visit next week by International Olympic Committee Chairman Thomas Bach to mark the Hiroshima leg of the torch relay has been canceled.

Earlier Friday, organizers of a petition demanding the cancellation of the Olympics submitted more than 350,000 signatures to Tokyo Gov. Yuriko Koike that were collected since early May. The petition says money spent on the games would be better used on people in financial need because of the pandemic.

On Thursday, Japan reported 6,800 new coronavirus cases, increasing its total to 665,547 with 11,255 deaths.

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