Jailed artist released
An artist who could not be reached for more than a week after he painted a politically charged mural in Shenzhen yesterday wrote on Twitter that he has been freed. “I was released a few days ago and we are in my hometown now,” the Twitter account of painter Hu Jiamin (胡嘉岷) read days after Hong Kong newspaper Ming Pao reported that Hu and his French wife, Marine Brossard, had been taken away by plainclothes men. Hu said in another post that he would return to France on Saturday. The couple had painted a mural honoring Chinese dissident and Nobel Peace laureate Liu Xiaobo (劉曉波), who died in 2010, at the entrance of a public exhibition in Shenzhen on Dec. 15. City authorities covered the wall with a banner the same evening, witnesses said. Their painting depicted an empty blue chair inside a room with red bars, an apparent reference to Liu.
Manure sent to Mnuchin
A gift-wrapped package addressed to Secretary of the Treasury Steven Mnuchin’s home in a posh Los Angeles neighborhood that was suspected of being a bomb was instead filled with horse manure, police told local media. The package was found on Saturday evening in a next-door neighbor’s driveway in Bel Air, the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) told the Los Angeles Times and KNBC television, the NBC affiliate in Los Angeles. The package also included a Christmas card with negative comments about President Donald Trump and the new tax law signed by Trump last week. Reuters could not reach LAPD officials for comment on Sunday. An LAPD bomb squad X-rayed the package before opening it and found the horse manure inside, police told local media. Mnuchin, who KNBC said was not home when the package was discovered, is a former Goldman Sachs Group executive and Hollywood film financier.
Fifteen arrested over attack
Security officials said that 15 people — 12 Muslims and three Christians — have been arrested in connection with an attack on an unlicensed Christian church south of Cairo. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak to the media. Hundreds of Muslim demonstrators stormed the church after Friday prayers, according to the local diocese, who said they wrecked some of its fittings while chanting anti-Christian slogans and calling for its demolition. Three Christians were wounded by the attackers. Christians constitute about 10 percent of Egypt’s population.
Police probe pork attack
Police in Northern Ireland are treating as a hate crime an incident in which pork was forced through the letterbox of an Islamic center on Christmas Eve. Center treasurer Raied al-Wazzan, the treasurer of the center in Belfast, described those responsible as “ignorant people.” A colleague, Anwar Macady, said that it was the first time the center had been attacked in such a way, and it was sad that it had happened on Christmas Eve. “They’re supposed to be celebrating mercy and forgiveness. I think this man is only representing himself, and a handful of people who may support him,” he said. “We know that this person doesn’t represent the wider society of Northern Ireland and we are very thankful for the people who sent us messages to tell us the message of support.” In August an Islamic center in Newtownards, Co Down, was subjected to a racist attack when a pig’s head was left on its doorstep.
STEP TOO FAR? The mandatory COVID-19 app has unprecedented access to users’ location data and forces Android users to give access to their picture and video galleries Privacy concerns over Qatar’s COVID-19 contact tracing app, a tool that is mandatory on pain of prison, have prompted a rare backlash and forced officials to offer reassurance and concessions. Like other governments around the world, Qatar has turned to mobile phones to trace people’s movements and track who they come into contact with, allowing officials to monitor infections and alert people at risk of infection. The apps use Bluetooth to ping nearby devices, which can be contacted subsequently if a user they have been near develops symptoms or tests positive for the virus, but the resultant unprecedented access to users’ location
‘CULTURE ERADICATION’: A US official said that Beijing is trying to stamp out the Uighur culture because it is not what the Chinese Communist Party deems ‘Chinese’ The US Congress on Wednesday authorized sanctions against Chinese officials over the mass incarceration of Muslim Uighurs. The US House of Representatives voted with just one dissent in favor of the Uighur Human Rights Act. Rights groups say that at least 1 million Uighurs and other Turkic Muslims in China’s northwestern Xinjiang region have been incarcerated in what Beijing calls “re-education” camps. “If America does not speak out against human rights [violations] in China because of some commercial interest, then we lose all moral authority to speak out on human rights violations any place in the world,” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said. House Committee
UNITED STATES SpaceX launch delayed SpaceX’s launch to the International Space Station — the first crewed mission to blast off from US soil in almost a decade — was scrubbed on Wednesday due to fears of a lightning strike. With NASA astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley strapped into the Crew Dragon capsule, the launch pad platform retracted and rocket fueling under way, SpaceX made the call to abort. “We had just simply too much electricity in the atmosphere,” NASA chief Jim Bridenstine said. UNITED STATES Chinese ministry checked Twitter has applied a fact check tag to at least two posts made in March by
Anglo-Australian mining giant Rio Tinto has admitted damaging ancient Aboriginal rock shelters in Australia’s remote Pilbara region — blasting near the 46,000-year-old heritage site to expand an iron ore mine. Traditional owners said that the culturally significant cave in Juukan Gorge, Western Australia — one of the earliest known sites occupied by Aborigines in Australia — had been destroyed in a “devastating blow” to the community. Explosives were detonated on Sunday near the site in line with state government approvals granted seven years ago, Rio Tinto said in a statement. “In 2013, ministerial consent was granted to allow Rio Tinto to conduct activity