Coronavirus: Ukraine president’s wife tests positive

Olena, the wife of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy, said she had tested positive for coronavirus but her husband and their two children had tested negative.

“Today I received a positive test for coronavirus. Unexpected news. Especially considering that I and my family continue to follow all the rules – masks, gloves, a minimum of contacts,” Zelenska wrote on Facebook. She said she felt well, was not hospitalised, but was isolating from her husband and children.

Ukraine has reported 29,753 coronavirus cases, including 870 deaths.

Jordan charges former MP with ‘insulting the king, queen’

Authorities in Jordan have arrested a former member of parliament and royal critic on various charges, including “assaulting the king and the queen”, according to his family and lawyer.

Relatives said Ahmad Oweidi al-Abbadi, 75, was arrested on June 2 by the General Intelligence Department (GID), or Mukhabarat, while he was on his way to visit friends in the capital, Amman.

The state prosecutor filed a criminal complaint against him on Wednesday that included charges of “attempting to undermine the regime” and “violating electronic law”, his family and lawyer told Al Jazeera.

No other details were immediately available.

Al-Abbadi has frequently appeared in online videos, along with other activists abroad, demanding the government to fight corruption and hold officials accountable.

It remains unclear when al-Abbadi will face trial which, his family said, will take place at the State Security Court, a military tribunal.

In comments made to Al Jazeera, al-Abbadi’s lawyer, Omar al-Alwan, rejected the charges against his client as “fabrications”. 

Controversial figure

A longtime royal critic, al-Abbadi is the founder of the Jordan National Movement, an opposition group that mainly criticises what it describes as corruption in the royal family. In 2007, al-Abbadi was sentenced to two years in jail over emails a court ruled promoted “false news” and that were “harmful to the state”. He pleaded not guilty.

The former army colonel and right-wing politician last served as a member of parliament between 1997 and 2001. He is seen as a controversial figure in Jordan who has long spoken against the presence of Palestinians in the country and questioned their citizenship. In the past, he has also directed his criticism towards Jordan’s queen, because of her Palestinian origins, and questioned the legitimacy of the royal family. 

Jordanian law criminalises speech deemed critical of the king, government officials and institutions. It also considers it illegal to criticise foreign governments.

In a 2019 report, Human Rights Watch said the Jordanian government had “detained over 30 political and anti-corruption activists and filed charges against some that violated the right to free expression. Most of those detained were linked to a loose coalition of political activists across the country known as the hirak (movement).”

“The charges filed against activists ranged from insulting the king (‘lengthening the tongue against the king’) to ‘undermining the political regime’ and ‘online slander’,” the HRW said.

In April, authorities arrested top executives at popular TV channel Roya for airing reports of people complaining about their economic hardship during the coronavirus lockdown. Former parliamentarian and government critic Salim al-Batayneh was among several others arrested during the same period.

In a statement issued on June 3, al-Abbadi’s family called for his immediate release and decried the arrest as “illegal” and called it a “kidnapping”.

His son, Nomayyal-Abbadi, told Al Jazeera from Germany, where he works as a doctor, that his father suffers from chronic heart disease and diabetes and called on international human rights groups to pressure the government to release him.

Calls made to the government’s spokesperson for comment went unanswered.

Hussam Abdallat, a political activist and opposition figure living in London, described al-Abbadi as a “well-known personality in Jordan” who “carries certain symbolism within the country”.

“His arrest is intended as a deterrent move against other activists and scare other Jordanians from taking to the streets in protest” against the government’s “economic failure” in the aftermath of the coronavirus lockdown and the failure to end “endemic corruption” within the political system, he said.


Deadly blast hits Kabul mosque during Friday prayers

A blast in a mosque during Friday prayers in the western part of capital Kabul has killed at least four people and wounded many more, Afghanistan’s interior ministry said.

“Explosives placed inside the Sher Shah Suri Mosque exploded during Friday prayers,” said a statement issued by the ministry, which added that the mosque’s prayer leader Azizullah Mofleh was among those killed.

Interior ministry spokesman Tariq Arian said police have cordoned off the area and helped move the wounded to ambulances and nearby hospitals.

No group immediately claimed responsibility for the attack but a mosque attack earlier this month was claimed by an ISIL (or ISIS) group affiliate, headquartered in eastern Afghanistan’s Nangarhar province.

“Interestingly, every time you have the peace process gaining some momentum and pace, you have these kinds of attacks in the country,” Habib Wardak, a national security analyst based in Kabul, told Al Jazeera.

“The Islamic State group claimed responsibility for the attack that happened last week on a mosque in Kabul, so despite the fact that you have these news and press conference from the government that they have eliminated ISIL, how can they conduct such sophisticated operations?”

Friday’s blast had parallels to one earlier this month, when an explosion tore apart a famous Kabul mosque and led to the death of renowned Afghan cleric Maulvi Ayaz Niazi.

“In this attack, the imam seems to be the target, not the rest of the crowd. These are the imams who have supported the peace process with the Taliban movement,” Wardak said.

“The other political aspect for these kinds of attacks is that there are peace spoilers trying to convey a message that peace with the Taliban will not eradicate violence in the country because you have ISIL.”

Afghans inspect the inside of a mosque following a bombing, in Kabul, Afghanistan, Friday, June 12, 2020.
People inspect the interior of the Kabul mosque following the blast [Rahmat Gul/AP Photo]

Violence has spiked in recent weeks in Afghanistan with most of the attacks claimed by the ISIL affiliate.

The United States blamed the armed group for a horrific attack last month on a maternity hospital in the capital that killed 24 people, including two infants and several new mothers.

The ISIL affiliate also took responsibility for an attack on a bus carrying journalists in Kabul on May 30, killing two.

It also claimed credit for an attack on the funeral of a strongman loyal to the government last month that killed 35 people.

Meanwhile, the US is attempting to broker peace talks between the Afghan government and the Taliban to end 18 years of war.

Washington’s peace envoy Zalmay Khalilzad was in the region earlier this week trying to resuscitate a US peace deal with the Taliban.

The peace deal signed in February calls for the withdrawal of the US and NATO troops from Afghanistan in return for a commitment by the Taliban to not launch attacks on the US or its allies.

‘Welcome to Free Capitol Hill’ — Capitol Hill Autonomous Zone forms around emptied East Precinct — UPDATE

The Free

Posted on by jseattle SHARED WITH THANKS!

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is CHSBLMJune82020-38.jpg

Protesters have made their own riot shields emblazoned with the pink umbrellas that have become a symbol of the demonstrations

With reporting by Jake Goldstein-Street and Alex Garland

The first night in the so-called Capitol Hill Autonomous Zone that has formed in the wake of police giving up the week-long blockade of the East Precinct was rainy and peaceful and full of speeches from activists, agitators, poets, and socialist city council members.

“I guess whatever the fuck we’re doing is effective,” one organizer identified as Magik said over a megaphone early in the night as police were still clearing the area. “They are going to move up. They are going to get everybody out of here and we are free to move through these streets and protest and march.”

“Yesterday we were on 11th and Pine. Today we have victory on 12th…

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How the Madison Anti-Vietnam War Protests Politicized Me

The Most Revolutionary Act

The War at Home: Resistance to the Vietnam War

Directed by Barry Alexander Brown and Glenn Silber (1979)

Film Review

This documentary traces the history of the student antiwar movement at the University of Wisconsin during the sixties and seventies. In 1968, Playboy magazine described the Madison campus as the most radical university in the country. The topic holds particular interest for me as I attended medical school there between June 1969 and June 1971.

A staunch Goldwater Republican at the time, there was no question my Madison experiences politicized me. It was there I learned how Dow Chemical (which manufactured the napalm the US dropped on Vietnamese civilians) and other big corporations controlled Congress by financing their political campaigns. Although I participated in no street protests, I cut class during the National Moratorium on November 15, 1969 to join 15,000 other students at a teach-in at the UW Field…

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