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Archaeologists scramble to save ancient church unearthed on Gaza building site

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Archaeologists have called for the preservation of an ancient church unearthed on a Gaza construction site, with different ministries in the Hamas-run Palestinian enclave seemingly at loggerheads over its fate.

The site is believed to be a church or cathedral dating back to at least the 7th century.

The Gaza ministry of antiquities and a number of prominent archaeologists called for all building to be suspended until the relics can be protected and preserved.

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The ministry of endowments and Islamic affairs, however, owns the land and wants the commercial development to continue, with bulldozers working on Tuesday despite protests.

Hyam al-Betar, an archaeologist who works with the antiquities ministry, screamed at bulldozers to stop on Tuesday as they roughly moved marble columns from under the sand, breaking one.

Technicians from the ministries of antiquities were hurriedly taking columns, as well as ornate marble bases, to the Qasr al-Basha — the only museum in Gaza — to be cleaned and restored before being presented.

Mohammed Al-Zarad, a researcher in archaeology at Gaza’s Islamic University, said it was a “very important site which must be protected.”

“We found many of the rock layers had fossils in them dating back to the bronze age,” he added, with other discoveries including plates and pottery – some of which were perhaps smashed by bulldozers.

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Zarad said there were not enough resources to search for relics within Gaza and called on the world heritage body UNESCO to step in and “save the monuments of Gaza from loss.”

Jamal Abu Raida, from the ministry of antiquities, said the pieces found include a marble column engraved with leaves, pillars and a foundation stone bearing a Greek Christian symbol.

Gaza, like much of the Palestinian territories and Israel, is filled with antiquities.

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The territory has at various times come under the rule of Romans, Byzantines, Crusaders, Mamluks and Ottomans.

Betar said it was important to try to find a solution.

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“We extend our hand to all to cooperate in research into Gaza and its history because Gaza is one of the oldest cities in the world.”

“There are treasures beneath our feet,” she added.

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Congress still has one big tool left to rein in Trump’s corruption: Oversight Committee Democrat

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Senate Republicans may have managed to quash the impeachment trial without calling forth any new witnesses or seriously considering the evidence against President Donald Trump. And the president may feel vindicated and largely invulnerable as a result.

But, Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi (D-IL) told CNN's Anderson Cooper on Monday, that doesn't mean Democrats don't have one last big play to rein in the president's abuses of power. They can use the first and strongest authority delegated to them: the power of the purse.

"What can Democrats really do when it comes to oversight of the president?" asked Cooper. "I mean, now that impeachment is over, does seem like there are fewer and fewer guardrails, if any."

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Trump said he ‘loved’ the fact that America is more divided than ever: ex-GOP congressman

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President Donald Trump bragged about increasing divisions in America during a White House meeting, a former Republican congressman explained on MSNBC on Monday.

Former Rep. David Jolly (R-FL) told host Joy Reid that "Donald Trump has intentionally tried to create the anxiety" that Americans are explaining.

"Garry Kasparov, the Russian freedom activist, has said the point of disinformation isn't to manipulate the truth, it's to exhaust your critical thinking," Jolly explained. "To exhaust your critical thinking, that's what we're experiencing as voters."

"I had a colleague that was in a meeting in the Roosevelt Room and he said he heard Trump say, 'Have you ever seen the nation so divided?' My colleagues and others said, 'No, we haven't.' Trump said, 'I love it that way.' This is the currency that he's peddling as political strategy, but it's not one we have to accept," Jolly explained.

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2020 Election

Bloomberg and Biden attack Sanders supporters’ ‘Trump-like’ tactics

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On Monday, The New York Times analyzed the state of the Democratic presidential primaries heading into the Nevada caucuses. One of the key new developments is a fresh volley of attacks on the behavior of supporters for Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT), which is being characterized as "Trump-like" by former Vice President Joe Biden and former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg.

"Former Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg’s presidential campaign, which has largely focused its attacks on President Trump, on Monday mounted a frontal offensive against one of his Democratic rivals for the first time, comparing Senator Bernie Sanders’s campaign tactics with those employed by the president," wrote Thomas Kaplan, Kate Conger, and Reid Epstein.

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